Issues involving socio-economic rights dominated South Africa’s report to the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), Deputy Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Andries Nel said on Monday.
“South Africa’s country report highlighted a consolidation of constitutional democracy as well as progress in the realisation of socio-economic and cultural rights…,” he said in Johannesburg.
The UNHRC received the report on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Geneva last Monday.
Nel said although member states “warmly received” the report, there was still work to be done on service delivery and access to rights.
It was recommended that efforts to curb racism and xenophobia be stepped up and the fight against HIV and Aids needed sustained attention and more needed to be done to eliminate violence against people based on their sexual orientation and gender.
Nel said a task team was established in 2010 to look into this and many court officials had since received training in this regard.
He said member countries were impressed by the “strong stand” South Africa had taken internationally to bridge divides over perceptions around lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex issues.
Other member states raised concern over the potential dampening effect of the Protection of State Information Bill on press freedom.
Nel said most of the bill was aimed at replacing apartheid-era legislation on state information and that it was not the purpose of the bill to restrict media freedom.
The consultation process had highlighted concerns over this and the Constitutional Court had the power to protect public interest, he said.
Since South Africa’s last report to the UNHRC in 2008, a number of advances had been made, including the introduction of the ministry for women, children, and people with disabilities.
Nel was speaking at a news briefing after giving feedback on the UNHRC meeting to Chapter Nine institutions.
Deputy International Relations and Co-operation Minister Marius Fransman was also present.