South African Prison Service Calls Amnesty Charges Far-fetched
Jan. 28, 1986
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ The South African Prison Service on Tuesday dismissed an Amnesty International report as "far-fetched," saying blacks jailed for pass law offenses are treated with indignity and inhumanity.
The 112-page report was written for the London-based human rights group by Irish law professor Kevin Boyle, who visited South Africa in 1984 and 1985.
"The author uses the technique of exaggeration and antiquated, unreliable references to prove and to support his utterly biased and nebulous arguments," the prison service said in a statement.
Boyle focused in part on the treatment in prison and in parole work programs of blacks arrested for being in white areas without the fight stamp in their passes. White areas cover 87 percent of the country.
Boyle said trials were perfunctory, prisoners were herded into communal cells and fed badly, and inmates worked on farms in parole work programs as "cheap labor to white farmers under what ... in essence is closer to a system of forced labor."
The prison service did not reply to Boyle's broader charges that the pass law system itself plays havoc with the lives of blacks and should be abolished. But it said violence inside prison is not tolerated and "even now ...(guards) are serving prison sentences for going beyond their powers.
The service defended parole work programs as a way of letting prisoners earn money and work away from hardened criminals.
"The prison service is satisfied that people entrusted to its care are treated in a responsible and professional way. The generalized allegations to the contrary ... are therefore rejected as far-fetched," the statement said.