Coronavirus: O’Regan appointed as COVID-19 Designated Judge

Lamola said while the government does all it can to implement measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Designated Judge has an important role to play to safeguard the privacy and personal information of persons during this process.

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woman wearing beanie with smartphone on ear
woman wearing beanie with smartphone on ear. Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola has appointed Justice Catherine (Kate) O’Regan as the COVID-19 Designated Judge.

The government will report on a weekly basis to the former Constitutional Court Justice the particulars of those who have been traced using cell phone data.

The move is aimed at finding the contacts of those who test positive for COVID-19.

O’Regan’s role is to ensure that their privacy and personal information is protected, as the government works around the clock to contain the spread of the deadly global pandemic.

The Regulations issued in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002, and as published on 2 April 2020 in Government Gazette No 43199, make provision for contact tracing and for a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

Regulation 11H empowers the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services to designate a Judge, who has been discharged from active service, under section 3(2) of the Judges’ Remuneration and Conditions of Employment, 2001 or a retired High Court judge, as the COVID-19 Designated Judge.

The Regulations provide that the Director-General of Health may direct an electronic communications service provider to provide him or her with information regarding the location or movements of any person known, or reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19, or any person known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with such a person.

The requested information would be for inclusion in the COVID-19 Tracing Database.

Lamola said while the government does all it can to implement measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Designated Judge has an important role to play to safeguard the privacy and personal information of persons during this process.

“The Director-General of Health must file a weekly report with the COVID-19 Designated Judge, setting out the names and details of all persons whose location or movements were so obtained.”

“The COVID-19 Designated Judge may also make such recommendations to Cabinet members responsible for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Health, Justice and Correctional Services as she deems fit, regarding the amendment or enforcement of this regulation, in order to safeguard the right to privacy, whilst ensuring the ability of the Department of Health to engage in urgent and effective contact tracing to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19,” Lamola explained.

The Minister said Justice O’Regan is a highly respected former Judge of the Constitutional Court and is known for her unwavering commitment to human rights, social justice and the rule of law.

“I am grateful to Justice O’Regan for availing herself for this role, so as to ensure that whilst we fight COVID-19, people’s right to privacy is not compromised,” Lamola said.

Justice O’Regan is a former Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, having served for 15 years from 1994 to 2009. She acted as Deputy Chief Justice in the absence of Justice Moseneke in 2008.

Since 2010, she served as an ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court of Namibia.

From 2008 to 2012, she served as Chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council, a body established by the General Assembly to help ensure independence and accountability in the internal system of justice within the United Nations.

Since 2011, Justice O’Regan has served as President of the International Monetary Fund Administrative Tribunal, and as a member of the World Bank Sanctions Board since 2012.

She was also the Co-chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry into Inefficiencies in Policing in Khayelitsha.

She is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford and an Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town. – SAnews.gov.za

1 COMMENT

  1. […] A former Constitutional Court justice has been appointed as the COVID-19 Designated Judge, required to oversee processes, issue a weekly report, make recommendations to improve protections and issue a final report to be tabled in Parliament. Anyone whose movements were traced must be notified within six weeks of the end of the national state of disaster. For more read: Coronavirus: O’Regan appointed as COVID-19 Designated Judge […]

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