Date: Feb 6, 2019 Type: Country:

State of the Nation address must take full and honest stock of human rights situation




6 February 2019

South Africa: State of the Nation address must take full and honest stock of human rights situation

Tomorrow’s State of the Nation (SONA) address must symbolize a turning point for the country’s human rights situation.

“The time for promises that do not translate into better lives for the people is over. President Cyril Ramaphosa should boldly and transparently outline concrete actions that his government must begin to take to respect all human rights – civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights – and change people’s lives,” said Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa.

“The country’s literacy level is on the decline as statistics show that many school children cannot read in their mother tongue. The healthcare system is failing with, for example, only seven percent of health facilities offering access to safe and legal abortions, even though it is a legal requirement. And, almost seven years later, victims of the Marikana tragedy, which claimed 34 lives, and their families are still waiting for justice.

“These are but a few examples of South Africa’s poor human rights record. A genuine commitment to address these challenges without further delay is vital if the government is to live up to its domestic and international human rights obligations. A realistic, accountable delivery plan on human rights – one that inspires confidence and hope – is long overdue. The people are watching and waiting.”




The State of the Nation Address (SONA), at the annual opening of Parliament usually in February, is an address to the nation by the President of the Republic of South Africa. The President addresses a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. It focuses on the current political and socio-economic state of the nation.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6033 (office) or +27 (0)64 890 9224 (mobile);

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Amnesty International South Africa office, 97 Oxford Road, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, 2196

+27 11 283 6000;

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Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.