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AD HOC COMMITTEE ON FILLING OF VACANCIES ON HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
17 March 1999
The final four candidates were interviewed: Ms Z Majodina, Dr W Orr, Mr E S Ebrahim and Ms C McClean.
Ms Z Majodina
The chairperson asked the candidate if she would like to elaborate on aspects of her CV.
Ms Majodina replied that she is at present a senior lecture at Wits university and designing a masters program around migrants and refugees. She stated that her work in human rights stated in the 1970s . She stated that she had studied clinical psychology in London and discussed her work experience as an academic, a clinical psychologist , a researcher and her work in the public service both in South Africa and in Ghana. She stated that the work she is doing relates to human rights and that the issue of refugees is very important to her and that is why she has offered herself for this position.
Ms Smuts (DP) asked if she would like to work in any specific province.
Ms Majodina replied that she had no preference.
Ms Smuts asked what the candidate thought could be done about refugees and immigrants and what kind of role would she play in addressing these issues.
Ms Majodina replied that South Africa does not have the administrative capacity to enforce laws and that new bills are in place concentrating on the status of refugees. South Africa needs a regional approach but that this would be a long process.
Ms de Vos (IFP) asked if the candidate felt that rape perpetrated by a policeman is a human rights issue and what can be done about this.
Ms Majodina replied that she was not aware that police officers where found guilty of rape and that she felt this is a human rights issue. With regard to what can be done about it , she stated that the Commission needs to look at what makes it easy for perpetrators not to be punished. Policy guidelines for police need to be instituted from a preventative stance. Persons found guilty of this offence should be imprisoned. The HRC also needs to introduce awareness campaigns.
Ms Botha (ANC) asked what the candidate's view is on the death penalty and crime. How would she educate people with regard to the human rights view on this issue?
Ms Majodina replied that the death penalty will not lower the crime rate and it is unconstitutional. In answer to the second part of the question she stated that people do not understand basic principles of human rights and that human rights should be brought to the people directly.
Ms Chalmers (ANC) asked if the candidate enjoys working with people.
Ms Majodina replied that she has worked with communities and that she believes that interaction with people is very important and that she is no stranger to participatory research.
Ms Smuts (DP) asked for her views on affirmative action.
Ms Majodina replied that affirmative action was well under way but certain problems have been encountered and that it is a slow process in the public sector.
Dr W Orr
The chairperson asked if the candidate would like to elaborate on her CV.
Dr Orr stated that her interest in human rights started in 1985 when as a medical doctor she examined patients who had been tortured by the police and she had obtained a court interdict to stop this. She has worked in education at UCT and as a commissioner for the TRC.
A member of the committee asked if she was interested in a full time or part time position.
Dr Orr responded that she was interested in a full time position.
Ms van der Merwe (ANC) asked how the candidate worked with people on the TRC and does she think she will be able to work with people on the HRC.
Dr Orr replied that working with others on the TRC had been difficult but that she had learned to get along with people with different views and with this experience, she would be better able to work with people on the HRC.
A member of the ANC asked how the candidate would deal with abused women who are mostly black and from rural areas.
Dr Orr replied that although she may not always understand she has learned to listen to people. Not being black does not mean that she will not understand and listen to these women.
A member of the ANC asked what three rights she would prioritize. What strengths she would like to see in the HRC and what her thoughts are about environmental rights.
Dr Orr replied that priorities change but that for her: health care, women's rights and human rights education are important. She stated that the HRC should focus on education and through publicity make people more aware. She also stated that she felt that the HRC was not proactive but rather reactive. The HRC should raise issues and not only hear complaints on human rights abuses. Regarding environmental rights, she replied that she had no experience on this issue.
Mr. Ebrahim ( PAC) asked if she could suggest any practical things women could do to deal with rape. Ms. de Vos (IFP) asked what should be done about rape by the HRC.
Dr Orr replied that she had been a district examiner and has experience in this area. She stated that examinations should occur in a supportive environment with councilors and that there should be education about rape as well as follow-up support for those who have been raped. She also stated that she felt gender disimpowerment and lack of education where contributing factors in rape and that these issues need to be addressed. She also felt that the judicial system needs to be more rigorous.
The chairperson of the committee asked if Dr Orr felt that all rights where equal, and if this is the case what would she do if rights conflict with one another. She also asked the candidate how socio-economic rights can be granted in the South African context.
Dr Orr replied that in the South African context it is difficult to address rights when people have no food to eat. Socio-economic rights are crucially important and people must be able to live out their rights. The operationalizing of these socio-economic rights are however difficult. Some of the things that can be done is land redistribution, redistribution of taxes and other solutions that the private sector should also get involved with.
Dr Orr asked the representative of the HRC if there are any plans for projects around specific issues.
The representative replied that the commission has plans for projects but not for each issue.
The chairperson asked Mr. Ebrahim if he would prefer a part time or full time position and if he would be able to work in any province.
Mr Ebrahim replied that he would prefer a part time position and he would have to discuss the latter part of the question with his family.
The chairperson asked the candidate if he would like to elaborate on his CV.
Mr. Ebrahim replied that he would bring education, awareness of natural rights to the commission as well as stimulate debate about human rights. He also stated that he has experience in humanitarian law and has contacts with overseas and South African NGO s.
Ms van der Merwe (ANC) asked what the candidate's vision is for the protection of natural rights.
Mr. Ebrahim replied that natural rights have been neglected and that this not only affects people but also other issues. South Africa is dependent on her natural resources and it is therefor very important that natural rights are protected.
Mr. Ebrahim (PAC) asked what the candidate's views are on asylum seekers.
Mr. Ebrahim replied that we cannot afford to be xenophobic as we needed these people that we now discriminate against.
Ms Chalmers (ANC) asked Mr. Ebrahim what his thoughts are on administrative justice in rural areas.
Mr Ebrahim stated that the focus should be changed from cities to rural areas. NGOSs can play an important role in his regard and should be more delivery-based.
The chairperson asked the candidate what he understood the part time position to entail.
Mr Ebrahim replied that he felt that the part time position needs a hands-on approach, that the hours of work are flexible .
The chairperson asked why the candidate did not take up the previous position offered to him by the HRC.
Mr Ebrahim replied that the position was a legal position and that at the time the position was offered to him he had made other plans for his career.
The chairperson asked Ms McClean if she would like to elaborate on her CV.
Ms McClean stated that she has experience in the area of children's rights and that she has been involved in the formulation of a policy document on children's rights. She holds degrees in human rights and internal law. She has also worked with disabled people and children especially. She is presently working for UNICEF in the area of child protection in South Africa.
Mr Kekana (ANC) asked if the candidate was interested in a full time or part time position.
Ms McClean stated that she was not aware of the options and would have to think about it.
Ms van der Merwe (ANC) asked about the candidate's Polish background and how would she work in a team.
Ms McClean stated that she had been granted a scholarship from the ANC to study law in the United States and then went on to complete her second degree in law in Poland. In reply to the second question, she stated that she works well in teams.
Ms de Vos (IFP) asked how the candidate would address rape as a human rights issue.
Ms McClean replied that she is part of the commission looking into the matter of redefining rape. Rape victims needs more access to courts, lay judges could help in this regard especially in remote areas and that rape is underpinned by values and power. Rape would therefore have to be dealt with by the commission in a multi-faceted manner.
Mr Ebrahim (PAC) asked what the candidates views are on public shaming of rape perpetrators.
Ms McClaen stated that this has not worked in other countries and that legislation should be tightened instead.
Mr Kekana asked if the candidate felt that there is room for capital punishment in South Africa. He secondly asked if the candidate felt a regional approach to rights was better than a United Nations emphasis.
Ms McClean replied that the death penalty did not work in other countries and is not an effective deterrent for crime. To the second question she replied that the Umited Nations Convention on Rights makes it possible to structure programs and make recommendations on rights. Regional approaches are also positive and a number of these are under way.
A member of the ANC asked what the candidate views are on child labour.
Ms McClean replied that the Labour Relation Act lays done what acceptable work for children is and what is not.
Ms Smuts (DP) asked which province the candidate comes from and what her views are of the HRC.
Ms McClean stated that she comes from the Western Cape. In answer to the second part of the question Ms McClean replied that the HRC should monitor, educate the community as well as civil servants, especially on the issues of women and children.
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