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oa Litnet Akademies : 'n Joernaal vir die Geesteswetenskappe, Natuurwetenskappe, Regte en Godsdienswetenskappe - Vonnisbespreking : 'n oorwinning in die stryd teen straffeloosheid vir die plegers van menseregteskendings : regte

Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1995-5928

 

Abstract

Op 27 November 2013 het die hoogste hof van appèl in die tans nog ongerapporteerde saak 'n uitspraak gelewer wat op nasionale vlak as pionierswerk beskou kan word. Op internasionale vlak word dit vertolk as 'n oorwinning in die wêreldgemeenskap se dekade lange stryd teen die straffeloosheid wat diegene wat ander se mense- en humanitêre regte skend so dikwels skotvry daarvan laat afkom.


Die feitelike agtergrond van die saak het sy ontstaan in die beweerde marteling van lede van die politieke opposisie in Zimbabwe in Maart 2007. Die marteling is na bewering by verskeie polisiestasies in Zimbabwe gepleeg as deel van 'n beplande en stelselmatige poging om die opposisie in Zimbabwe die swye op te lê. Die Noord-Gautengse hoë hof het op aansoek van die Suider-Afrikaanse Sentrum vir Menseregtelitigasie en 'n ander nieregeringsorganisasie, die Zimbabwiese Vlugtelingeforum, die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens (SAPD) en die nasionale direkteur van vervolging gelas om die besluit om nie die beweerde voorvalle te ondersoek nie, te hersien. Dié uitspraak is in appèl geneem en op 1 November 2013 het die hoogste hof van appel argumente vir sowel verlof tot appèl as die meriete van die saak aangehoor. Verlof tot appèl deur die applikante is toegestaan en die appèl teen die uitspraak van die hof is afgewys. Dié bevel is vervang deur 'n bevel wat die SAPD se besluit om nié ondersoek in te stel nie, hersien en afwys.

A judgment by the supreme court of appeal (SCA) on 27 November 2013 in the yet unreported case of can be considered as pioneering on national level. On international level it can be regarded as a victory for the international community's long struggle against the impunity that perpetrators who commit human and humanitarian rights abuses have mostly enjoyed in the past. In the North Gauteng high court the Southern African Human Rights Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwe Refugees Forum obtained an order in terms of which the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the national director of public prosecutions were ordered to review a decision not to investigate alleged acts of torture carried out by the Zimbabwean police as part of a widespread attack on opposition members. After leave to appeal to the SCA which was granted, the court ordered the court a quo's order to be substituted with one in terms of which the SAPS was ordered to review said decision not to investigate. This judgment is the first in terms of which South Africa's jurisdiction to investigate crimes against humanity committed outside of South African borders was examined. This note discusses the judgment against the backdrop of the existing interwoven legal theory of national criminal jurisdiction, jurisdictional bases, the complementary jurisdictional regime of the international criminal court, the universality principle, and South Africa's implementation of the Statute of Rome. The note concludes that the SCA's judgment did not only bring legal certainty, but managed to create a pragmatic balance between scarce police resources and the need to investigate international crimes in the struggle against impunity for those responsible. The most important impact of the judgment is, however, the powerful symbolic message that it conveys, which firstly serves as a deterrent for future violators and, secondly, demonstrates South Africa's commitment to the maintenance of the rule of law. A deputy director of the litigation centre noted that the judgment confirmed that the service of justice was not limited to international forums only. In the same vein it was previously stated that the main responsibility for bringing international criminal law and justice to fruition does not lie with the international criminal court only, nor necessarily with states which can exercise territorial jurisdiction over the crime, but with third-party states that are willing to prosecute violators. Without derogating from the significance of introducing the universality principle into South African law, the author proposes that failing amendments to existing legislation, consideration ought at least to be given to the publication of guidelines to the South African investigating and prosecuting authorities in regard to the investigation of international crimes.

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/content/litnet/11/2/EJC157506
2014-08-01
2016-12-10

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