“Section 33(e) of the Act provides the Ombudsman with the power to visit all public and private places of voluntary confinement or detention subject to certain limitations and procedural requirements under Section 48 of the Act.

While the SCA acknowledges that, in some circumstances, it may be necessary to provide notice for such visits for reasons such as security, it is of the view that an NHRI should be mandated to conduct ‘unannounced’ visits to all places of detention within its jurisdiction as these limits opportunities for detaining authorities to hide or obscure human rights violations and facilitates greater scrutiny.

The SCA encourages the Ombudsman to advocate for amendments to its enabling law to provide for an explicit mandate to conduct ad hoc and unannounced visits to all places of deprivation of liberty.

In the interim, the SCA encourages the Ombudsman to continue to access all places of deprivation of liberty in a timely, regular and ad-hoc manner in order to effectively monitor, investigate, and report on the human rights situation, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It further encourages the Ombudsman 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 detainees.”