1 September 2005

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will visit South Africa from 4 to 19 September 2005 at the invitation of the Government. The Group will hold interviews with detainees in several detention centres in the cities of Pretoria, Johannesburg, Polokwane, Musina, Bloemfontein and Cape Town.

The Working Group will also meet with several authorities of the Executive Power, including officials of the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Correctional Services, Home Affairs; officials of the South African Police Service; members of the National Parliament, the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services; and members of the Judiciary. Meetings are also scheduled with several authorities of the Provinces of Gauteng, Limpopo, Free State and Western Cape to be visited.

The delegation will also speak with representatives of the Bar Associations; of the South African Human Rights Commission, the Judicial Services Commission, the Office of the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons and various national and provincial non-governmental organizations; judges and magistrates; lawyers; academics, and family members of persons in detention.

The Working Group will visit correctional institutes; young offenders centres; immigration holding facilities; detention facilities for women, jails and police stations.

A report on the visit will be published as part of the Working Group's report to the sixty-second session of the Commission on Human Rights, to be held next March and April.

The delegation will be headed by Leïla Zerrougui, the Working Group's Chairperson-Rapporteur, and will include Manuela Carmena Castrillo, member of the Group.

The Commission on Human Rights established the Working Group in 1991 to investigate allegations of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Its mandate was extended in 1997 to cover the issue of administrative custody of asylum-seekers and immigrants. It has carried out fact-finding missions to Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Canada, China, Indonesia, Iran, Latvia, Mexico, Nepal, Peru and Viet Nam. Concerning the issue of immigrants and asylum seekers, it has visited Australia, Romania and the United Kingdom.

The Working Group is composed of five independent experts appointed according to criteria governing equitable geographical distribution. In addition to Ms. Zerrougui (Algerian) and Manuela Carmena Castrillo (Spanish), it is composed of the following members: Mr. Tamás Bán (Hungarian), the Working Group's Vice-Chairman, Ms. Villagra (Paraguayan) and Mr. Hashemi (Iranian).

For further information on the Working Group's mandate, please consult Fact Sheet N° 26: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, published by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.