2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – South Africa, February 25, 2009

South Africa is a multiparty parliamentary democracy in which constitutional power is shared between the president and the parliament. The country has a population of approximately 48.5 million. The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens. However, the government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and local media reported the following serious human rights problems: police use of excessive force against suspects and detainees, which resulted in deaths and injuries; vigilante and mob violence; abuse of prisoners, including beatings and rape, and severe overcrowding of prisons; lengthy delays in trials and prolonged pretrial detention; forcible dispersal of demonstrations; pervasive violence against women and children and societal discrimination against women and persons with disabilities; trafficking in persons; violence resulting from racial and ethnic tensions and conflicts with foreigners; and child labor, including forced child labor and child prostitution.

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