Parliamentary Question: DoJ: Justice victim


1510.  Mr L W Greyling (ID) to ask the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development:
(1)       Why did his department place a certain report (details furnished) on compensation for victims of crime by the SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC) under embargo for seven years;

(2)       why did his department previously state the need to rework the report of an independent entity;
(3)       whether his department released the report on 19 May 2011 in response to a certain programme of the United Nations on assessing the feasibility of victim empowerment legislation (details also furnished); if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?         

Details referred to in question:
(1)The South African Law Reform Commission Report (Project 82) Sentencing (A compensation Fund for Victims of Crime)
(2)The United Nations Development Programme’s Victim Empowerment Legislation Feasibility Assessment (Project Number XAMT15) which is currently being undertaken to access the feasibility of launching a civil society advocacy initiative for the passing of a Victim Empowerment Legislation Act in South Africa.

(1)&(2)   I wish to inform the Honourable Member that it is incorrect that my Department placed an embargo on the South African Law Reform Commission’s (the Commission) report on a compensation fund for victims of crime, as indicated by the Honourable Member.  The Commission, in terms of its enabling legislation, makes recommendations to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development for consideration on investigations it has carried out in terms of a programme approved by the Minister.  After studying the Commission’s report under discussion and after obtaining advice, my predecessor was of the view that a number of critical aspects thereof needed further investigation.  I endorsed this approach, as did Cabinet.  On that basis, I requested the Commission to consider investigating the aspects in question and possibly to address them by means of a supplementary report or even a new investigation and report.  The Commission has informed me that my request in this regard would indeed be considered by it, in terms of the Commission’s criteria, for the inclusion of new projects on its programme.  However, the Commission has also informed me of its view that the publication of the original report should not be held in abeyance until the publication of a supplementary or new report.  While the Commission is an independent statutory body, its mandate is to do research with reference to all branches of the law in order to make recommendations for the development, improvement, modernisation or reform thereof.  In the past, there have been occasions where the Minister has requested the Commission to revisit some areas of its investigations.  The Department has not stated that there is a need to rework the report as indicated.
(3)  The Commission, of its own accord and for its own reasons, decided to release the report.  My Department did not release the report, as indicated by the Honourable Member.