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@Torture, ill-treatment and
executions in African National
Congress camps
In its recent report, South Africa: State of Fear, Amnesty International described the role of
government security forces in a spiral of torture and political killings during the two years since
the release of Nelson Mandela and the lifting of the 30-year ban on the African National
Congress (ANC). Previous reports issued in the 1970s and 1980s had drawn attention to the
widespread human rights violations which occurred in South Africa during those decades - the
extrajudicial executions of protesting students in Soweto and elsewhere; thousands of arbitrary
detentions of anti-apartheid activists, including prisoners of conscience; systematic torture and
ill-treatment of political detainees, in well over 70 cases resulting in death; hundreds of
executions of political and other prisoners; and other grave violations of fundamental human
The present report also focuses on grave abuses of the basic human rights of many South
Africans - but abuses which took place outside South Africa and for which the ANC, not the
South African Government, was directly responsible. Based on first-hand research among
surviving victims of such abuse, it documents a long-standing pattern of torture, ill-treatment and
execution of prisoners by the ANC's security department. It shows too that this pattern of gross
abuse was allowed to go unchecked for many years, not only by the ANC's leadership in exile
but also by the governments of the African front-line states who allowed the ANC to set up
bases, and prisons, on their territory. Such governments were at best accessories to the abuses
by the ANC; at other times they actively assisted those within the ANC responsible for the
grave human rights abuses which occurred.
All parties to the conflict in South Africa have now to confront the question of
accountability for grave abuses. Amnesty International has repeatedly urged the government
to order full investigations into all allegations of torture, "disappearances" and extrajudicial
executions in order to ensure that the security forces account for their actions to prevent
repetition of similar abuses in the future. This obligation to account for past human rights abuses
applies equally to armed opposition groups. In October 1992, ANC president Nelson Mandela
published the report of an internal commission of inquiry into torture and ill-treatment of
prisoners. Amnesty International is urging the ANC to implement the commission's
recommendations, which include further investigation of abuses and the calling to account of
those officials responsible.
Amnesty International 2 December 1992 AI Index: AFR 53/27/92
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