Remand detention in South Africa: An overview of the current law and proposals for reform

This research report provides an overview of the necessary research to develop possible solutions for limiting the amount of time remand detainees spend in custody. The report discusses, firstly, the bail provisions in the Criminal Procedure Act with regard to the right to liberty and in the broader constitutional notion of proportionality. Second, case law from regional and international bodies dealing with pre-trial release is explored, and third, detention time limits and automatic bail review proceedings are discussed. Fourth, the conceptual distinction between fair trial rights and liberty interests and the South African courts’ treatment of “undue delay” cases is described. The report concludes with the recommendation that a constitutional challenge, based on the Criminal Procedure Act’s failure to adequately protect the accused’s right to liberty, be brought on behalf of South Africa’s remand detainees. Such a challenge would be based on the right to liberty and argue that without custody time limits and a regular, automatic review of bail decisions, the law in relation to bail, as it currently stands, is unconstitutional.
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