n Law, Democracy & Development - Guidelines and principles on imprisonment and the prevention of torture under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights - how relevant are they for South Africa?

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



It must be regarded as a peculiarity that the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Charter) makes no specific mention of prisoners' rights and that these rights have to be inferred from an overall reading of the Charter, and in particular Articles 4-6. The reasons for this lie in the history of the drafting of the Charter and the political context at the time and will not be the focus of the discussion here. Other regional instruments are more specific, for example, the American Convention on Human Rights, state "[a]ll persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person". With regard to the Charter it must therefore be concluded that prisoners' rights are weakly defined and much room is left for interpretation.

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