Thursday, December 11, 2014

AfriForum’s assessment of human rights during 2014

AFRIFORUM - Assessment of Human Rights 2014

by Esmarie Prinsloo on 10 December, 2014

AfriForum is of the opinion that South Africans will find it increasingly difficult to exercise their rights. An overall assessment of the Bill of Rights reveals concern regarding certain rights during 2014.

Political meddling in the running of Chapter 9 institutions, lack of government ability to provide safety to citizens, as well as adequate protection for minorities, and an unwillingness to curb corruption are some of the findings in AfriForum’s Human Rights Index for South Africa, which will be released on 31 March 2015.

According to a researcher at AfriForum, Johan Nortjé, one of the reasons states exist is to protect the rights of their citizens, and states are assumed to be failing in their duty to realise rights when they can no longer adequately protect rights such as safety, or deliver public services.

A fact sheet illustrates some of the rights that were not effectively protected during 2014. The following are cause for concern:

The right to life: a total of 17 068 murders were reported over the period 2013/2014 – an increase of 5% when compared to 2012/2013 incidents of murder. This means an estimated 47 murders a day.

Freedom of trade, occupation and profession: the Employment Services Act (No. 4 of 2014) and the Labour Relations Amendment Act (No. 6 of 2014) were signed into law in 2014. The Employment Equity Amendment Act (No. 14 of 2013) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Act (No. 20 of 2013) commenced during 2014.

Political rights: South Africa is still considered to be a ‘flawed’ democracy by the Economist Democracy Index and is also a classic example of a one-party dominant system. According to the public violence monitoring project of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), 76 incidents of election-related violence took place in the six months leading up to the election on 7 May 2014.

Environment: during 2014, approximately 1 020 rhinos were poached according to SanParks.

Property: the Infrastructure Development Act (No. 23 of 2014), the Property Valuation Act (No. 17 of 2014), the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act (No. 22 of 2014) and the Rental Housing Amendment Act (No. 35 of 2014) were all signed into law in 2014.

Language and culture: The transformation agenda received renewed attention with efforts to change the language policy at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University, and attempts to introduce English as the language of communication at other tertiary-education institutions appear to be gaining momentum – despite the fact that the three most spoken languages in South Africa according to the 2011 census are isiZulu (22,7%), isiXhosa (16%) and Afrikaans (13,5%).

AfriForum is of the opinion that one of the best ways to reduce the dependence on government and exercise rights is instruments of activism that are used to promote and claim rights. These include lobbying, civil mobilisation, petitioning, litigation and the creation of independent institutions that make up for the state’s shortcomings.

A detailed report will be published in March 2015.

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