UN urges South Africa to prosecute Apartheid torturers
Geneva - South Africa should put those suspected of torturing prisoners under apartheid on trial and pay compensation to victims, said a United Nations human rights body on Friday.
While welcoming the work of SA's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which probed apartheid era crimes, the UN committee against torture said "de facto impunity" persisted for those responsible for acts of torture.
"(South Africa) should consider bringing to justice persons responsible for the institutionalisation of torture as an instrument of oppression to perpetuate apartheid," the committee said in its first report on SA.
Its conclusions were issued at the end of a three-week meeting, at which its 10 independent experts examined the records of seven signatory countries to the 1984 anti-torture treaty - Burundi, Guyana, Hungary, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Tajikistan.
Plans to charge leading perpetrators of apartheid
The TRC was set up by former president Nelson Mandela to probe crimes committed on both sides of the apartheid struggle. It completed its work in 2003.
The TRC granted amnesty to about 1 000 applicants but many perpetrators snubbed attempts at the truth. Although it asked police to investigate several hundred suspects, only a handful have since been tried.
SA's chief prosecutor said recently that he planned to charge some of the leading perpetrators of apartheid crimes, although critics have said it may be too little too late.
The UN body, which monitors compliance with a global treaty banning torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment, also expressed concern at the high number of deaths in detention and at overcrowding in jails in today's SA.
It said it was worried by "widespread" acts of violence against women and children, especially rapes and domestic violence, and the lack of any effective state policy to combat the problem.
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