The Treatment of Children in South African Prisons - A Report on the Applicable Domestic and International Minimum Standards (Research Paper No. 11)

The purpose of this report is to describe the compliance requirements in terms of domestic and international law for the Department of Correctional Services as it pertains to the treatment of children in prison. International law is replete with normative standards applying to the treatment of children in prison. As this research paper focuses on children in prison, the emphasis is placed on the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Rules on Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, as well as some of the provisions of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Further, the Correctional Services Act of 1998 is an important legal framework in the administration of prisons and the treatment of all prisoners, including children. The White Paper on Corrections, released in March 2005 by the Department of Correctional Services, constitutes a comprehensive blueprint augmenting the legal framework in the Act. The report also pays attention to the situation at ground level and identifies particular problem areas. This paper makes a number of observations in relation to the need to upgrade some areas of these domestic laws and policies to ensure compliance with the international law framework. Examples of practical compliance and non-compliance are also highlighted, calling for the need to go beyond progressive laws and policies.
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