Sonke is happy to announce the completion of a new publication: Evaluation of South Africa’s Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services: Assessing its independence, effectiveness and community engagement. The report is part of our ongoing advocacy for a stronger, independent Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS).
The report provides an overview of JICS’ history, mandate, and systems, analysing the strengths and weaknesses in its current structure, in light of its potential role as part of the National Preventative Mechanism once the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture is ratified. The authors argue that JICS is a vital institution that sheds light on a correctional system that is largely opaque to the outside community, and if strengthened, can increase the Department of Correctional Services’ accountability to its mandate to promote and protect inmates’ rights.
The report goes on to compare JICS to similar watchdog bodies in South Africa and elsewhere, arguing for increased independence and enhanced powers of investigation. Noting that one of JICS’ strengths is its ability to bridge the divide between correctional centres and the community, the authors highlight avenues for civil society organisations to engage with the institution, as important stakeholders in resolving inmate complaints, and as advocates for a stronger correctional service oversight body.