#dignityday: Offenders have a right to dignity too

Kyla Herrmannsen
prison overcrowding_PressTV
Today, October 16, is Global Dignity Day. Countries worldwide are marking the day with calls to ‘implement the universal right of every human being to lead a dignified life’.

In South Africa, the right to dignity is enshrined in our Constitution – which is based on three pillars: human dignity, equality and freedom.

Chapter Two of our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, outlines human dignity and rules “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected”.

While some may argue that through committing a crime offenders have handed over their right to dignity, that is not so. The Bill of Rights also states that offenders have the right to “be detained under conditions that are congruent with human dignity”

The White Paper on Corrections in South Africa (drafted in 2005) states that “all human beings, including offenders, have dignity and worth”. The White Paper also notes that South Africa’s Correctional Centres should be “specifically designed as correctional centres that make provision for facilities for rehabilitation, adequate security, development, and conditions consistent with human dignity”.

As the Wits Justice Project, we have published a number of stories that look at the criminal justice system, focusing on the prison system in which, at times, the human dignity of inmates – a right enshrined in our countries constitution – is infringed upon.

Read these articles to find out more about how the human dignity of inmates is often not upheld:  
Assault, torture of inmates rife in prisons nationwide
Denying paraplegic bail is ‘torture’
In the belly of the beast
G4S accused of holding South African prisoners in isolation illegally
Prison isolates inmates


About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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