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Concluding Observations, CCPR/C/ZAF/CO/1, 23 March 2016: South Africa

B. Positive aspects

3. The Committee welcomes the following legislative and institutional measures taken by the State party:

(e) The establishment in 2011 of the national task team to counter discrimination and violence against persons based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and the launch in 2014 of the National Intervention Strategy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Sector;

C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations

Violence based on sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity

20. While acknowledging the considerable efforts invested by the State party in this field, the Committee is concerned that gender-based and domestic violence remains a serious problem in the State party, that the conviction rate for such acts is low and that there is a lack of disaggregated data on the phenomenon. It is also concerned about the persistence of stigma against persons based on their real or perceived sexual or gender orientation, gender identity or bodily diversity, and that such persons are subject to harassment, acts of discrimination and sexual and physical violence (arts. 2, 3, 6, 7 and 26).

21. The State party should redouble its efforts to prevent and combat sexual, gender-based and domestic violence and to eradicate discrimination and violence against persons based on their real or perceived sexual or gender orientation, gender identity or bodily diversity, including through implementation of the National Intervention Strategy. The State party should also facilitate reporting, and collecting data on, sexual and gender-based crimes and ensure that all such crimes are promptly and thoroughly investigated, that perpetrators are brought to justice and that victims have access to full reparation and means of protection, including access to shelters or centres run by the State and non-governmental organizations throughout the State party’s territory. The State party should also ensure adequate training for law enforcement and health service personnel regarding domestic and gender-based violence, and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Protection of human rights defenders

40. The Committee is concerned about reports of threats, intimidation, harassment, excessive use of force and physical attacks, some resulting in deaths, by private individuals and police forces against human rights defenders, in particular those working on corporate accountability, land rights and transparency issues, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and HIV activists. It also notes with concern reports about the lack of due diligence of law enforcement officers in protecting human rights defenders, including registering and investigating allegations of human rights violations, and in securing accountability for such violations (arts. 2, 6, 9, 19, 21 and 22).

41. The State party should take all measures necessary to protect the rights of human rights defenders to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. It should ensure that police officials receive adequate training regarding the protection of human rights defenders. The State party should also thoroughly investigate all attacks on the life, physical integrity and dignity of these persons, bring perpetrators to justice and provide victims with appropriate remedies.

Link to full text of the report: Concluding Observations-CCPR-South Africa-2016-eng