Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) condemns with contempt it deserves the mafia style and cold-blooded killing of Ms Babita Deokaran, on Monday morning 23 August 2021, outside her house after dropping her daughter at school. This is nothing but blatant impunity at the core of the society. Ms Deokaran held a high position as the Chief Director of Financial Accounting at the Gauteng Provincial Department of Health. This is where her role was so vital as a witness in the PPE corruption scandal under the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) investigation. We understand there are other witnesses who face life risk for shedding light that would hold corrupt officials accountable.
This is another cruel murder the citizens of this country witnessed on broad day light, during the Women’s Month. Her death is added among the list of virtuous women we lost in this country in a new human rights dispensation. The continuous assassination of law-abiding citizens in the country is historical and this barbaric act evidence a deep-seated culture of reprisals, assassins in our society same as in the dark era of apartheid.
In this atmosphere of marking the 25th Anniversary of our hard-earned Constitution and 27 years of human rights and democracy in South Africa, we see little steps made to protect citizens performing human rights duties. Performance of human rights duties in community, public or in private sphere, is recognised as a right by international human rights institutions.
South Africa Constitution guarantee individuals the right to life as non degorable in all times either in public or public sphere. South Africa is also bound by international and regional human rights instruments to protect the rights of citizens against reprisals, extra judicial killings, intimidation, and harassment for defending human rights. These instruments emphasise the significance of freedom of association and expression, which Ms Deokaran was deprived by her assailants to fulfil without fear of losing her life. South Africa’s maturing democracy need to results in ensuring free and safe environments for performing human rights.
The new environment recognises any person acting individually or in association with others promoting and protecting national, regional and international human rights as a Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). This is safeguarded in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society (UNDHRDs), adopted by the UN General Assembly, on 9 December 1998.
It places a duty on states to take necessary steps to ensure conducive environments for all persons under its jurisdiction, defending rights individually or in association with others. While the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) adopted Resolution 273 reiterating protection of HRDs performing human rights individually and in association with others. The Commission has also conducted a research study on the situation of Women Human Rights Defenders in Africa. Substantive recommendations are provided emphasising development of legal frameworks to enable safe environments for WHRDs conduct their human rights work fear. Whistle Blowers fulfils roles of HRDs and in this case Ms Deokaran sacrificed her life, as a loyal citizen that carried her public function with distinction and integrity as a WHRDs, by ensuring SIU is appraised with the necessary accurate evidence for prosecution of the suspects of the PPE corruption.
We are calling the government and law enforcement to uphold the national legal frameworks, (Protected Disclosure Act), including, international and regional human rights instruments ratified by South Africa ensuring safe environments for reporting corruption by all citizens, including public servants, CSOs from the grass roots, activists, journalists, unionists, lawyers, judges promote and protect human rights independently the country.
We are calling law enforcement to be diligence in turning South Africa ‘s current culture of impunity to safe communities,
•To contribute effectively in building a crime free society based on human rights.
•To combat all criminal syndicates that have found fertile ground in South Africa and make their crime drives lives intolerable.
•Not to leave any stone unturned in finding the whereabouts of all involved in the assassination of Ms Deokaran, including protecting potential individual (s) on the alleged hit list, to urgently account for their cruel and inhumane acts.
•Ensure prosecution of all suspects with no leniency given upon their heartless crime, including bail not be considered as well as harsh convictions and sentences be handed
•This must come to end, our country has had enough of the heinous and atrocious criminal acts: #Enoughis#isEnough #Fight Corruption, #ProtectHRDs, #EndPersecutionsWHRDs, #EndintimidationsHRDs, #End-ExtrajudicialKillingsof WHRDs.