31 October 2007

Complaint to the SAHRC regarding the Department of Justice

Over the course of the last six years SAHA has had a difficult relationship with the Department of Justice. We have made numerous public statements about the problems experienced in accessing, in particular, TRC records and have litigated in two matters and appealed to the Minister in several others.

Last year we made numerous attempts to engage in a more facilitative relationship by requesting meetings with the Director General (the first meeting was cancelled and second request was ignored) and with the Deputy Information Officer. We met with the DIO in October 2006. The meeting, as far as we were concerned, brought consensus on a number of issues. However when we submitted our minutes for comment the DIO disputed the content and, after we declined to have another meeting to discuss the meeting minutes, she refused to provide us with an amended set. Following the meeting the DIO continued to refuse access to records substantially similar to those granted in the Cradock case, or failed to respond to requests at all.

We consequently filed a comprehensive complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission outlining a number of areas in which the Department is not fulfilling its obligations. In response to the complaint, the Minister denied that there were any problems in implementation of PAIA within her Department, and refused to participate in a mediation to resolve outstanding requests and concerns raised by us.

For further detail regarding the Minister of Justice's response to our complaint please see the attached update.

If you would like further information regarding this matter please contact Kate Allan on 082 977 7401 or Piers Pigou on 0833817150.