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'No amount of provocation by community should result in law enforcement abuse'

4 April 2020 3:10 PM
Tags:
South African Human Rights Commission SAHRC
Law Enforcement
abuse of power
21 day lockdown
lockdown abuses

Reverend Chris Nissen says more civil society monitoring is needed to keep the volatile lockdown situation in check.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating 38 cases brought against police members across the country for reported misconduct during the lockdown period so far.

On Friday the police watchdog also said there are six reported deaths as a result of police action, with another two in police custody.

Reverend Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner for the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), says the body will take the matter to court if the rate of alleged abuse continues.

No amount of provocation by the community should lead to members of law enforcement acting in the way have done in those cases.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - South African Human Rights Commission

The law must take its course to make sure those people are brought to book and they need to face the might of the law.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - South African Human Rights Commission

He says the commission has been engaging with civil society to discuss the suggestion that more monitors are employed to keep the situation in check.

At the moment there are very few monitors on the ground because of the accreditation in terms of the regulations; who can be deemed essential services.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - South African Human Rights Commission

I do think that NGOs and civil societies that are doing monitoring should be doing it as an essential service in terms of monitoring human rights violations during this lockdown period.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - South African Human Rights Commission

Nissen commended the commander of the potentially explosive law enforcement operation to remove African nationals from the central Methodist Church, for members' professionalism in the face of provocation.

That is what we are saying - why can you not have that example be repeated elsewhere... This is not war against the people, this is war against the virus and you need the co-operation of the people.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - South African Human Rights Commission

We must understand... in the suburbs you can keep that social distance... we in the townships are not prepared... It brings out the vast inequality under which our people live.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - South African Human Rights Commission

Once it reaches that proportion where it's unacceptable, the SAHRC will have to sit down and say, we've got two things - we can go and speak to the national command and say 'you need to give certain instructions... and/or say this is going too far, we have to go to court.

Chris Nissen, Western Cape commissioner - South African Human Rights Commission

He also discusses the need for ongoing training.

Listen to the conversation with the SAHRC commissioner below:


4 April 2020 3:10 PM
Tags:
South African Human Rights Commission SAHRC
Law Enforcement
abuse of power
21 day lockdown
lockdown abuses

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