The United States warmly welcomes Deputy Justice Minister Andres Nel of South Africa and his delegation to the UPR Working Group.
We commend South Africa for its principled, just and forward-leaning position on the rights of all people and the prevention of discrimination against any of them, including discrimination based on sexual orientation. South Africa played the leading role in the promotion and passage of the UN HRC resolution on the human rights of LGBT persons last year. The Government is also working with civil society to develop ways to address hate crimes and attacks on LGBT people domestically. However, LGBT people in many communities continue to suffer from intolerable violence and prejudice based on their status, and we are concerned at ongoing reports of so called corrective rapes and other such violence in the community.
We recognize the Government of South Africa for its efforts to combat human trafficking, including drafting a bill which will comprehensively prohibit and punish trafficking in persons, as well as its conviction of sex trafficking offenders.
We note the continued debate around the Protection of State Information Bill, which is currently under consideration in the National Council of Provinces. During the apartheid era, South African press played a vital role in exposing the human rights abuses of those in power and they continue to play a critical role in advancing democracy, exposing corruption and defending the constitutional rights of citizens. Civil society has expressed strong concern that the Bill could have a significant dampening effect on freedom of the press, and have proposed amendments to protect the media’s watchdog role.
Bearing in mind these concerns, we would like to make the following recommendations:
- Pass the “Combating and Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Bill” currently under deliberation in the National Assembly, and move swiftly to implement it once passed.
- Engage civil society, activists, NGOs and media to seek common ground on the Protection of State Information Bill.
- Increase advocacy for freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through public education and awareness building and address violence targeting LGBT persons through training for police, first responders, and justice system officials.