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South Africa: Allegations of abuse of inmates at G4S-run prison must be fully investigated

Allegations of abuse - including the use of electric shocks - against inmates in a South African prison run by the UK security firm G4S raise serious questions about the South African authorities’ commitment to tackling torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said this evening.

Inmates at Mangaung’s high-security prison, in Free State province, have alleged that staff from G4S - which until recently ran the facility - subjected them to electric shocks and beatings, amongst other abuses. On 9 October, the South African authorities took control of the prison because of a range of problems within the facility.

G4S have reportedly said they are launching their own investigation into the alleged abuse.

'Unfortunately, these recent allegations of abuse against inmates in South Africa’s Mangaung prison are consistent with a long-standing pattern across the country, including disturbing levels of impunity for human rights abuses within South Africa’s prisons.

'Even if they had not taken control of this prison, the South African authorities are directly responsible for what happens in this and all places of detention.

'These new allegations highlight the urgent need for progress on establishing an effective investigative mechanism with 24-hour access without notice to all prisons and other places of detention.
'That the South African authorities have reportedly launched an official investigation into the allegations is positive. The question now is whether they will actually bring those responsible to justice and provide full reparations to victims, as opposed to what has happened too many times in the past.

'Any investigation into the alleged abuses must be prompt, impartial and independent.'
Mary Rayner, Amnesty International’s South Africa researcher

Amnesty has highlighted the widespread impunity for torture and ill-treatment in South Africa for many years.

In July the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, signed into law the Prevention and Combating of Torture Act 2013. Amnesty welcomed that development and urges the government to seize the moment and implement its international and domestic obligations to prevent, investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of torture.

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