Reports & Articles

[Report] An assessment of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in South Africa

After signing the Optional Protocol to UNCAT (OPCAT) in 2006 and ratifying it in March 2019, South Africa designated a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) being the coordinating structure. Since ratification in March 2019, it appears that to date, the NPM has not been fully functional and institutional arrangements for visiting places of detention under the banner of the NPM remain unclear. There is also uncertainty as to how the constituent parts of the NPM will fulfil the responsibilities under OPCAT. In view of the above, the members of the Detention Justice Forum (DJF) agreed to assess the operational functionality of the NPM in the respective sectors of the DJF member organisations. This also provided an opportunity to identify issues for clarification on the NPM’s mandate and its relations with other components as well as government departments responsible for places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty. This report provides the findings of the assessment performed amongst members of the Detention Justice Forum (DJF) based off a questionnaire that was developed. This report was prepared by K Petersen & J Mangwanda, December 2022

Summary report on consultations with civil society stakeholders: “The NPA that we want”

Much of the media attention given to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is centered on high-level corruption investigations, especially linked to the Zondo Commission’s findings and recommendations. While this is important, it should also be asked what happens at ground-level in our courts where ordinary cases are heard on a daily basis. The question can indeed be asked: What are our expectations of the NPA when having to engage with the criminal justice system as a victim, witness or even an accused? Do we know what we want from the NPA in real and practical terms? In June and July 2022 ACJR commissioned a series of consultation workshops with stakeholders to discuss these questions and develop descriptions of “the NPA that we want”. The consultations yielded valuable observations and insights, demonstrating on the one hand that people generally have a deep understanding of the challenges facing the NPA and, on the other hand, clear understandings of what they expect of the NPA, especially as these relate to the four core values of professionalism, independence, accountability, and credibility.

Report - Overview and key findings COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on criminal justice and human rights (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa & Zambia) Report - Overview and key findings  COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on criminal justice and human rights (Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa & Zambia)

This report makes a number of overview observations dealing with broader issues of governance, human rights, the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the criminal justice system. A central lesson to be taken from these findings is the need for continued vigilance in seeking a balancing of rights and the importance of evidence-based policy-making, especially where there is the potential that those already socio-economically vulnerable may be pushed deeper into poverty. Report by L Muntingh, J Mangwanda & K Petersen

NPA Issue Paper 1: In search of strategy | by Lukas Muntingh

This paper problematises the strategy environment of the NPA and raises questions about how strategy is developed, the priorities set and how performance is measured. The overall impression is of a situation where strategy priorities and objectives emanate from different sources, but that the most measurable is what drives performance at operational level and not necessarily the most needed or most important to make the country safer and build trust in the state. The NPA finds itself in a complex strategy environment: various strategy documents not only have different time frames but also emanate from different sources and fundamentally different purposes. Finding harmony and synchronicity in this strategy environment must be difficult for the NPA leadership.

NPA Issue Paper 2: Knowledge, skills and human resources | by Lukas Muntingh

The capacity, knowledge, skills and experience of an organisation's workforce will determine largely the extent to which it is able to fulfil its mandate. The aim in this issue paper is to problematise this particular issue in a succinct manner with the view to build consensus on understanding the problem properly in order to develop effective short to medium term responses. Transparency and accuracy in reporting on the NPA's human resources is a notable problem. Three broad issues are explored, being vacancies, job satisfaction and skills requirements of prosecutors. The problems are not new and there is ample guidance from the literature and practice to address the issues.

NPA Issue Paper 3: Effectiveness and Efficiency | by Jean Redpath

The question of the effectiveness and efficiency of the NPA is key to the proper functioning of South Africa’s democracy. This is because the NPA is the sole custodian of criminal accountability. Properly measuring effectiveness and efficiency is key to ensuring that the NPA does in fact functioning correctly. The evidence suggests that the way in which effectiveness has been measured has not only failed to do this, but has created perverse incentives which have undermined effectiveness. Effectiveness and efficiency are separate enquires and should be interrogated separately.

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