Security Forces: Still no Independent Public Complaints Mechanism

CONSTITUTION WATCH 3/2019

Section 210 of the Constitution not Implemented 

Security Forces: Still no Independent Public Complaints Mechanism

Section 210 of the Constitution provides for the investigation of complaints against the security services [i.e. the Police Service, the Defence Forces, the State intelligence services and the Prisons and Correctional Service]

The section reads as follows:

“An Act of Parliament must provide an effective and independent mechanism for receiving andinvestigating complaints from members of the public about misconduct on the part of members of thesecurity services, and for remedying any harm caused by such misconduct.”

Nearly six years after the Constitution came into force, no independent mechanism has been established in terms of section 210.

Veritas’s Concourt Case:  For Implementation of Section 210

In 2015 Veritas instituted an application in the Constitutional Court [Mahiya v Minister of Justice & Others CCZ 42/2015] calling on the government to implement section 210 by gazetting a Bill to set up the independent complaints mechanism envisaged by the section.  The application was heard in January 2016 and the Bench seemed to be sympathetic with the applicant’s case.  The Court adjourned the hearing, however, without delivering a judgment or making an order on the application.

Nearly three years later we are still waiting for the Court’s decision.

Prejudicial Effect of Delay

The government’s inexcusable delay in setting up the independent complaints mechanism, and the Constitutional Court’s inexplicable delay in ordering the government to comply with section 210, have seriously prejudiced countless people who were unable to get their grievances against the

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