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Centre News & Events: 2014
Centre calls on the African Commission to adopt resolution condemning violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
Statement by the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
at its 55th ordinary session, Luanda, Angola, 29 April 2014, on the situation of human rights in Africa


African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights adopts first resolution ever on sexual orientation as it condemns violence against persons on basis of sexual orientation.


The Centre for Human Rights asks the African Commission to renew its preoccupation with the persistently alarming human rights situation in Eritrea. Despite the Commission’s repeated findings that the incommunicado detention by Eritrea of senior government officials and journalists, since 2001, has violated the African Charter, these detentions continue to today.  Despite numerous resolutions deploring Eritrea’s non-compliance with the Commission’s recommendations to release these detainees, or, at the very least, allow them access to their families and lawyers, these detentions persist.

We therefore urge the Commission, in its next activity report, to explicitly highlight Eritrea’s persistent non-compliance and to call on the AU Assembly to suspend Eritrea’s membership of the AU, due to its flagrant violation of the basic tenets of the organization, or, at the very least, to impose sanctions against it under article 23 of the AU Constitutive Act.

Invitation to a Public Lecture: ‘Eritreans at Risk: Refugees, migrants or migrating refugees?’

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites you to a public lecture ‘Eritreans at Risk: Refugees, migrants or migrating refugees?’

Thousands of Eritreans have fled a repressive dictatorship since 2001, making their small northeast African nation (population 4-5 million) one of the largest per capita producers of asylum seekers in the world. Many languish in desert camps. Others have been kidnapped, tortured and ransomed—or killed—in the Sinai; left to die in the Sahara; or drowned in the Mediterranean. Still others have been attacked as foreigners in South Africa, threatened with mass detention in Israel, or refused entry under draconian “terrorism bars” in North America. This lecture draws on interviews in refugee camps and communities in Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt (Sinai) and Israel to put a human face on this ongoing crisis, sketch out its main corridors, and situate it within the global debates on causes, consequences and responses to forced migration and human trafficking.

Summary of the proceedings concerning the talibés case

In 2012 the Centre for Human Rights submitted a communication to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Committee) which was co-authored with la Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), a NGO based in Dakar, Senegal. 

On 18 April 2013, the Committee declared the Communication admissible and it was heard on its merits on 14 April 2014 where both the representatives of the Applicant and the Respondent were present.

Invitation: Opening of exhibition exploring the Nazi persecution of sexual minorities in Europe

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in association with the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre invites you to the opening of the exhibition ‘In Whom Can I Still Trust?’

To commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on 17 May, the Centre for Human Rights and the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre invites you to the opening of the renowned exhibition, ‘In Whom Can I Still Trust?’, which explores the Nazi persecution of sexual minorities in Europe.

The keynote address will be delivered by Sisonke Msimang, human rights activist and social commentator.

Call for Abstracts: Overcoming Obstacles - Towards the effective implementation of the rights of women with disabilities in Africa

The Centre for Human Rights invites abstracts for a conference on disability rights with a focus on the effective implementation of the rights of women with disabilities in Africa. The conference will be held at the Centre for Human Rights on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 November 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference will also coincide with launch of the second issue of the African Disability Rights Yearbook, the first issue having been launched in 2013. It is anticipated that papers presented at this conference will be reworked by the authors and submitted for consideration for publication in the 2015 issue of African Disability Rights Yearbook.

Invitation to a book launch: Symbols or Substance? Socio-­Economic Rights in South Africa

 The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites you to the book launch of Socio­‐Economic Rights in South: Symbols or Substance? The publication is edited by Malcolm Langford, Ben Cousins, Jackie Dugard and Tshepo Madlingozi.

Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa,  Zak Jacoob will be the guest speaker at the book launch. The book launch forms part of the Judicial Enforcement of Socieo-Economic Rights in South Africa course, presented by the Advanced Human Rights Courses at the Centre for Human Rights.

SOAWR strongly condemns discriminatory Kenyan legislation

The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR), an initiative of 43 organizations working across 23 countries in Africa to promote and protect women’s rights in Africa, strongly condemns discriminatory provisions of Kenya’s 2013 Matrimonial Property Act and the Marriage Bill (pending presidential assent).

The Matrimonial Property Act, which was duly gazetted into law on 10th January 2014, is discriminatory and a retrogressive step for women's rights to land and property in Kenya. The Act, in brief, defines matrimonial property as only property that is jointly owned by the spouse, and disallows women the right to marital property upon the death or divorce of their spouse by requiring them to prove their contribution to the acquisition of the property during the marriage.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe gives public lecture on the ICC

South Africa’s Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, delivered a public lecture at the Centre for Human Rights. The event was organised by the Centre for Human Rights to mark 15 years of the Master’s degree programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa. The programme is presented by the Centre for Human Rights and 13 other African universities. At the ceremony, the Centre for Human Rights also remembered an alumnus of the programme Mr Julius Osega who passed away in 2006 while on a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan. More than 200 guests attended the public lecture. 

Human Rights Day – an opportunity for reflection and concern

Human Rights Day is an opportunity for stock-taking and an occasion for celebration.  In the run-up to the 2014 parliamentary elections, we should not lose sight of the very fact that all South Africans are now able to vote in a legitimate process under circumstances that are largely free of violence and intimidation. The Public Protector’s recent report on Nkandla also serves as a reminder that our democracy has brought into being strong institutions, which support the transformation of our society from one based on unquestionable adherence to executive and legislative authority to one based on a culture of justification.

Regional experts meeting on child marriage in Africa 5 - 6 March, 2014

The Centre for Human Rights hosted a meeting of experts on child marriage in Africa on the 5th and 6th of March 2014. This meeting forms part of the child marriage project which seeks to investigate the prevalence of this phenomenon in African countries, and to give recommendations on best practices that can be employed to curb it. This project supports the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA) especially to follow up on the implementation of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa by state parties, notably by preparing reports on the situation of women’s rights in Africa and propose recommendations to be adopted by the Commission. The Special Rapporteur is further mandated to carry out comparative studies on the situation of the rights of women in various countries of Africa. 

Professor Jonathan Jansen on Leadership Qualities

On 11 February 2014, Professor Jonathan Jansen, the Vice Principal and Rector of University of the Free State, addressed a gathering to welcome 26 African students from all over the continent who are at the University of Pretoria to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa. The Master’s programme to which the students are admitted is presented by 13 African universities under the stewardship of the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. The event was attended by donors, members of the diplomatic corps, senior management of the University of Pretoria, students and members of the public.

The Vera Chirwa Recipient 2013 - Augustin Koukine Some

On 7 May 1971 – in the windswept sandstorm region of the Sahel, a male child was born in Southern Burkina Faso in the town of Ouessa to a farmer whose selfless character was to be a notable virtue in his son. Though born to a humble beginning, this child in his early years had the resilience of a baobab. Against the ebbs and flows of the semi-arid region of his birth, he would go with his father to their farm to cultivate crops. One day, as he helped his father with tomato plants, his father told him that whatever you do, do it to the fullest. Though it had seemed like a statement that would pass with the wind, this child took it to heart. Through seasons of drought and moments of rain as this child matured into a man, those words sunk in his heart.

Centre Hosts Conference on the Rights of Women in Africa and Annual Helen Kanzira Lecture on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights

The Centre for Human Rights hosted a Conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter in Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, on the 9th and 10th December at the Merensky Main Library Auditorium, University of Pretoria. The main theme of this conference was “exploring possibilities for promoting women’s sexual and reproductive health rights.”

Generously funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs it was a captivating two days which saw critical and informative discussions around various aspects of women’s health and reproductive rights under the protocol to the Africa charter. HE Kari Bjørnsgaard, Ambassador of Norway to South Africa was present to offer the opening remarks. 

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