HomeReparationsGovernment2011 Regulations /  IV. Recommendations
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 10:35

IV. Recommendations

Written by  SOUTH AFRICAN COALITION FOR TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE
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The SACTJ makes the following recommendations:

1- Allow all those who are victims of gross human rights violations under the criteria specified in the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act to access these educational and medical benefits.

2- Establish ongoing victim registration procedures and take affirmative steps to register  victims of gross human rights violations. Support and publicize such efforts through broad information campaigns. Special effort should be made to reach out to victims of sexual violence and other groups who were marginalized in the TRC process and may traditionally be excluded from the social, political and economic life of the country.

3- Undertake an open and transparent process of consultation and dialogue with civil society to revise the Notice 282 regulations so as to be more responsive to victims’ needs and afford victims the right to public participation.

4- Implement the TRC’s community rehabilitation reparation recommendations, including mental health services.

5- Provide assistance to victims in applying for benefits and eliminate excessively complicated administrative requirements.

6- Streamline victim information in secure and easily-accessible databases, so that victims do not have to continuously provide the same details.

7- Eliminate the 5-year limit on the education regulations and revise the net income requirements.

8- Secure equity in the provision of reparations through reserving funds exclusively for community rehabilitation and establish a body to administer these funds that includes not only members of the government, but also representatives from civil society and the business sector.

9- In relation to the specifics of the proposed programmes, we recommend-

  • Provide greater specificity about the process for identifying victims eligible for educational benefits;
  • In determining the financial means of a household, the applicant’s own monthly financial contributions should be excluded in the analysis of the household’s net monthly income, given the household will need to survive without that support for the duration of the beneficiary’s education;
  • Dependency alone should not be determinative of eligibility;
  • At a minimum, medical benefits for conditions related to the human rights abuses (e.g. trauma) should be made available to all victims, direct and indirect;
  • The Regulations should require the administrator to take into account the total number of eligible applicants for education assistance in one household and on that basis, determine an appropriate maximum net income accordingly. For household’s with several school age children for instance, the cut-off amount for net monthly income should be higher than household’s with one child, given the family will need to pay the education costs for each of them;
  • The Regulations should recognize the opportunity cost of going to school and allow families to apply for a household subsidy during the time an applicant is in his/her program (including children as well).
  • Applicants should be prompted with open ended questions and given ample space to describe in-depth the individual and financial circumstances of the household. This may alleviate some of the difficulty of determining financial need based on collective household income looking only at prescribed and limited indicators for financial need. For instance:
  • The form currently asks if the applicant has any disabilities, but not whether any other members of the household do also, which might have a significant impact on the financial circumstances of the household. The applicant should be prompted to provide information for any disabilities or ongoing medical issues among all members of the household and whether these persons require bedside care or full-time support.
  • The applicant should be prompted to specify the number of household members who are children or elderly and thus unable to work.
  • The applicant should be asked to describe the nature of work held by income-earning members of the household, such as whether it is full-time, seasonal, part-time, temporary/contractual, etc. This may allow the administrator to obtain some insight into the ongoing financial vulnerability of the family, month to month or in the longer term future.
  • The purposes and scope of the medical benefit should be specified to give greater clarity to the regulation overall. The Government should clarify whether beneficiaries may receive coverage for all medical treatments or only for those harms caused by human rights abuses under the apartheid regime.
  • The bases upon which an application may be rejected should be explicitly laid out.
  • The regulations should allow an applicant to apply once and for all for the status of an approved beneficiary, to avoid waiting on approval for each particular application. This might allow for a quicker approval process, reducing the risk to applicants of being rejected after the treatment has already been rendered.
  • Previous costs incurred for treatment for harm resulting from gross human rights violations under the apartheid regime should be considered for compensation, particularly given the amount of time that has occurred since these harms were suffered. This recommendation aims to reflect the goal set out in the preamble to South Africa’s National Health Act, which recognizes “the socio-economic injustices, imbalances and inequities of health services of the past,” and “the need to heal the divisions of the past and to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.”
  • Particularly with respect to banking details, wherever possible the provision of supporting documents should be required AFTER the request is approved as a condition for the receipt of assistance. By requiring documentation after approval has been given, it will help to ensure that the documentary burden is less prohibitive at the outset for potential applicants and will allow greater flexibility in the time limitation for the beneficiaries to provide documents, allowing families to make the necessary logistical arrangements without risking that they miss the application deadline.
  • Remove BER Regulation 10(6)(b) and HER Regulation 11(6)(b) entirely. It should be mandatory that all applications are considered in full to ensure that legitimate requests are not rejected merely because the logistical obstacles faced by the applicant are too burdensome.

10- We propose the establishment of an independent reparations monitoring body to consist of 3 members: (a) a representative from Parliament (because of the budgetary and legislation considerations) (b) a representative from the SACTJ and (c) a representative from the SA Human Rights Commission.  Such a monitoring body ought to ensure that consultations are conducted, a registration process is established and that regulations are revised when necessary to meet victims’ rights to reparations.  It could also mediate or review disputes arising from DoJ decisions in relation to reparations.

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