“Article 3(16) of the Law mandates the NCHR to visit prisons and all places of detention and interview inmates, as well as to submit its reports to Public Prosecutor and House of Representatives. The law is silent on whether or not prior notice is required in conducting these visits. The NCHR confirmed that such prior notice is necessary.
While the SCA notes that, in some circumstances, it may be necessary to provide notice for security reasons, it considers it is of the view that an NHRI should be mandated to conduct ‘unannounced’ visits to all places of detention within its jurisdiction as this limits opportunities for detaining authorities to hide or obscure human rights violations and facilitates greater scrutiny.
The SCA acknowledges the view of the NCHR that the requirement of prior notice does not impact its ability to effectively carry out its mandate to monitor places of detention. However, for the reasons stated above, the SCA considers it preferable NCHR to be mandated to conduct unannounced visits to places of detention. The SCA therefore encourages the NCHR to advocate for the explicit mandate to conduct unannounced visit to all places of detention.
In the interim, the SCA encourages the NCHR to continue to access all places of deprivation of liberty to effectively monitor investigate and report on the human rights situation in a timely manner.
It further encourages the NCHR to undertake systematic follow-up activities and advocate for the consideration and implementation of its findings and recommendations in order to ensure the protection of those detained.”