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Centre News & Events: 2015
TILSS: Developments in Global Trade and Implications for Africa

The International Development Law Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a seminar series titled “Trade & Investment Law Seminar Series (TILSS)".

This seminar is on the topic ‘Developments in Global Trade and Implications for Africa’ with Ms Grant Makokera as the Guest Speaker.

Guest Speaker:

Ms Grant Makokera was a diplomat for New Zealand for over 10 years and was posted to New York, Geneva and Pretoria. Ms Grant Makokera joined Business Unity South Africa in April 2007 as Executive Director: Trade Policy. Her portfolio at BUSA included trade policy and negotiations, trade and investment promotion, and international relations. She was the Secretary of the SADC Employers Group until 2010. Ms Grant Makokera was also the Programme Head for Economic Diplomacy at the South African Institute of International Affairs from 2010 to 2014. She is now a Senior Associate at Tutwa Consulting.

 

 


 
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New PULP publication:Human rights and democratic governance in Kenya: A post-2007 appraisal

The publication 'Human rights and democratic governance in Kenya: A post-2007 appraisal' (edited by Morris Kiwinda Mbondenyi, Evelyne Owiye Asaala, Tom Kabau and Attiya Waris and published by the Pretoria University Law Press) is now available online.

This publication is a collection of essays on human rights and democratic governance in Kenya in the period after the 2007 post-elections violence.

After surviving the trauma of electoral violence, the country soon embarked on a journey towards reconstruction by engaging in, among other things, intense re-evaluation of the then existing system of laws and institutions. In the process, the daunting task has been to reverse the flawed systems that have been in existence for many decades and in their place entrench systems that would promote and respect democratic governance and human rights. This publication, therefore, documents the extent of the country’s reconstruction since 2007, and makes recommendations for the way forward for the recovery of the state.

 

 


 
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TILSS: China’s Yuan devaluation and its implications for global trading system and Africa in particular

The International Development Law Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a seminar series titled “Trade & Investment Law Seminar Series (TILSS)".

This seminar is on the topic 'China’s Yuan devaluation and its implications for global trading system and Africa in particular’ with Dr Moses Obinyeluaku (ITAC) as the Guest Speaker.

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Moses Obinyeluaku currently holds the position of Chief Economist at the International Trade Administrative Commission of South Africa (ITAC). A graduate of BSc Economics degree with specialization in macroeconomics, international trade, development economics and econometrics in 1998, Dr. Obinyeluaku completed his MCom Economics degree with specialization in macroeconomics and policy, international trade and econometrics before his appointment as lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2005. Developing a strong interest in regional economic integration in Africa, Obinyeluaku studied for his PhD at the University of Cape Town while employed by the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury as Deputy Director: macroeconomic analysis. He successfully completed the PhD degree in 2010 and received various awards for his academic excellence and research. In 2012, he joined ITAC from the National Treasury, where he had been working since September 2008 after being promoted from the KZN Provincial Treasury. His past work experiences indicate that engaging in innovative economic policy research is what makes him an asset.

 

 


 
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Public consultation on a draft General Comment on Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (right to life)

At its July 2014 meeting in Cotonou, Benin, the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa (the Working Group) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) decided to develop a General Comment on Article 4 (the right to life) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter). It decided to engage a wide range of experts including the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

In June 2015, the Working Group held a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, where it agreed a draft text on the General Comment on Article 4 was now ready to be opened for public consultations. This draft can be found (in English and French) below.

In September 2015, the Working Group will meet again with a wide range of international experts convened in Geneva, Switzerland. Before that meeting, the Working Group invites written comments from any interested parties, including any of those who made contributions to earlier stages of the drafting process.

 

 


 
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Invitation to Seminar Series: Trade And Investment Law Seminar Series [TILSS]

The International Development Law Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a seminar series titled “Trade & Investment Law Seminar Series (TILSS)

This seminar is on the topic “Financing human rights and the SDGs: Assessing recent UN negotiations” with Mr Aldo Caliari as the Guest Speaker.

Guest Speaker:
Aldo Caliari has been, since 2000, staff and, since 2002, Director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project at the Washington DC-based Center of Concern. In those capacities he focused on global economic governance, debt, international financial architecture, human rights in international economic policy and linkages between trade and finance. Mr Caliari holds a Master of International Policy and Practice from George Washington University (2007), with a focus on economics and finance. He also holds a Master’s Degree from the Washington College of Law, American University, on International Legal Studies (2000), where he was honored with the Outstanding Graduate Award. He earned his first degree in Argentina, at the Universidad Nacional de Tucuman.

 

 


 
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Central Africa consultation on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights, Lubumbashi, DRC

The Centre for Human Rights, in support of the African Commission Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment, and Human Rights recently hosted a consultation in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which focused on the impact of extractive industries on human rights and the environment in Central Africa.

The consultation brought together a range of stakeholders working in the field of extractive industries in the Central Africa sub-region, with a strong representation from the DRC. The consultation took place over the course of three days (13 – 15 July 2015), and included presentations from the participants on issues that included environmental impacts of the extractive industries, community engagement and participation, development and human rights, and the different roles and responsibilities of state and non-state actors.

The Central Africa consultation was the third sub-regional consultation in a series of five sub-regional consultations, that hopes to cover all the sub-regions in Africa. The first consultation focused on Southern Africa, and took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the second that focused on East Africa took place in Nairobi, Kenya. The findings and submissions from these consultations will be captured in a report that elaborates on the findings of all the different sub-regional consultations.

 

 


 
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World-renowned experts teach on the Children's Rights in Africa course

The week-long advanced human rights short course on Children’s Rights in Africa, was presented by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria from 27 - 31 July 2015.  This year’s edition drew participants from diverse backgrounds and sectors: civil society, academia, legal practitioners, and other organisations which focus on the rights and welfare of the child.

The participants were engaged on a wide range of subjects on the rights and welfare of the child and benefitted from the rich experience and expertise of seasoned facilitators in the field of children’s rights.

Facilitators on the programme included:
  • Prof Ann Skelton
    Director Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria & UNESCO Chair in Education
    Topic: The right to education.
  • Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur
    Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the rights of the child and First Vice Chairperson of the African Committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the child
    Topic: United Nations and African treaty bodies with children’s rights mandate.
  • Ms Karabo Ngidi
    Attorney, Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria
    Topic: The use of United Nations and African Union treaties on children in domestic courts in Africa.
  • Dr Remember Miamingi
    The Pan-African Centre for the study and support of family, Pretoria
    Topic: Realising children’s rights in an African family setting.
  • Prof Julia Sloth-Nielson
    Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape & Vice Chairperson of the African Committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the child
    Topic: United Nations children’s rights framework.

 

 


 
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Handbook for Judges on human rights and abortion laws by Prof Charles Ngwena

This handbook, authored by Charles Ngwena and published by the Ipas Africa Alliance, is designed to raise judges’ awareness about the human rights obligations associated with abortion. Judges can use it as a guide to interpret and apply domestic abortion laws, taking into account global and regional human rights standards.

Charles Ngwena LLD, Barrister-at-Law, is a Professor of Law at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

He coordinates the LLM/MPhil on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Africa, and has published widely on issues at the intersection between human rights and health care, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive and sexual health.

Prof Ngwnea is also a disability rights specialist. He is  the convening editor of the African Disability Rights Yearbook, which publishes peer-reviewed contributions dealing with the rights of persons with disabilities and related topics, with specific relevance to Africa, Africans and scholars of Africa.

 

 


 
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Short course on Police Oversight and Accountability

Globally, the police as an institution of the State is saddled with the all-important duty of protecting the lives and property of members of the community. They are granted ‘wide powers’ by the State with a view to assisting them in the discharge of their responsibilities. However, the powers and discretion of the police is subject to regulatory mechanisms and oversight, and therefore not to be exercised arbitrarily.

It is in light of the above that the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) presented the 2015 edition of the advanced short course on ‘Police Oversight and Accountability.’

The one-week intensive course ran from 13 to 17 July, and brought togethers participants such as police officers, representatives of human rights institutions, academics and facilitators from around the world.

The participants were engaged and provided with up-to-date information and practical insights on the subject of policing and accountability by seasoned experts in this field.

 

 


 
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Capacity Building Workshop on Tobacco Control

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) in conjunction with the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) at the University of Pretoria is presenting a two-day Capacity Building Workshop on Tobacco Control.

Date: 27 - 28 July 2015
Venue: Auditorium, Plant Sciences Complex, University of Pretoria, Lynnwood Cnr Roper Street, Hatfield, Pretoria

About the Workshop

The workshop is the brain-childof the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), one of the partner organizations coordinating activities under the Bloomberg initiative, launched by Michael R. Bloomberg to combat tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.  The trend now is that the tobacco industry is using every tool at its disposal to delay, weaken and prevent global tobacco control policies to protect the industry’s pecuniary interests and profits. Increasingly too, the industry is resorting to international trade and investment law regimes to frustrate tobacco control. It against this backdrop that the CTFK, as part of its on-going work to counter this industry action, is partnering with CHR to bring together a group of trade and investment law specialists in Africa for a workshop focussing on the intersection between tobacco control policies and trade and investment law regimes.

 

 



 
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Call for Papers: 'Children, not wives: Ending the scourge of child marriage in Africa'

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the School of Law, University of Zambia, are pleased to announce a one-day conference on child marriage in Africa and hereby invite proposals for papers. The conference will be held as part of the 24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition.

BACKGROUND AND AIM OF THE CONFERENCE
The School of Law, University of Zambia, in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, are hosting the 24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Lusaka, Zambia from 5 to 10 October 2015. Over the past 23 years, 1071 teams from 141 universities representing 49 African countries have participated in this event, making it the largest and most far-reaching human rights educational initiative in Africa.

The one-week Moot Competition includes a one-day international human rights conference, this year on the theme ‘Children, not wives: Ending the scourge of child marriage in Africa’.

 

 


 
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Swaziland court orders Centre alumnus and magazine editor to be released with immediate effect

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria welcomes the Swaziland Supreme Court’s order to immediately release human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and magazine editor Bheki Mkhubu. This order comes after the Court upheld an appeal brought by Mr Maseko and Mr Makhubu against their conviction on two charges of contempt of court and two year prison sentences.

Mr Maseko, a 2005 alumnus of the Centre for Human Rights and the 2011 laureate of the Centre’s Vera Chirwa Award for human rights activism, and Mr Makhubu, the editor of the The Nation magazine, were convicted following their public criticism of Swaziland’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. Their imprisonment was an attempt to stifle free speech and criticism of the judiciary in Swaziland, an undemocratic country where the rule of law has largely been replaced by royal rule.

During the proceedings the Directorate of Public Prosecutions did not oppose the appeal as it is believed that the conviction was unsupportable and that Judge Mpendulo Simelane, who presided over their criminal trial in the High Court, should have recused himself. Judge Simleane has subsequently been charged with corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

 

 


 
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Two alumni from the Centre for Human Rights elected to two African Union institutions

The Centre for Human Rights is pleased to announce the recent election of two alumni of its LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa programme to two African Union institutions.

Dr Solomon Dersso

Dr Solomon Dersso (Ethiopia, class of 2003) was elected as Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, a quasi-judicial body which works to promote and protect human rights in Africa, interpret the African Charter and consider individual complaints of violations of the Charter. Dr Dersso obtained a Ph.D in Law from the University of Witwatersrand in 2009. One of the major areas of his research interest is constitutional design and institutional and policy mechanisms for accommodation of ethno-cultural diversity in Africa. He has served as the Legal Adviser to the AU High Implementation (Mbeki) Panel (AUHIP) Team of Experts on the Boundary dispute between Sudan and South Sudan. He is currently Head of the Peace and Security Council Report at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Prof Benyam Mezmur

Prof Benyam Mezmur (Ethiopia, class of 2005) was re-elected into the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, a team of child rights experts mandated with ensuring states’ compliance with the African Children's Charter and guarantee the best interests of the African Child. Prof Mezmur obtained a PhD in Law from the University of the Western Cape. He is currently Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape and Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Members of the African Commission and the African Committee of Experts serve in their individual capacities. These elections are therefore an attestation to their exceptional academic and professional achievements, and recognition of their ability to contribute to the African human rights project.

Dr Dersso and Prof Mezmur are among over 400 alumni of the LLM/MPhil programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, a fast-growing group whose members are highly qualified and well experienced human rights experts. Since 2000, their academic and professional achievements, personal commitment and integrity are cumulatively working to create and maintain a culture of human rights, development and peace in Africa and – from elsewhere – for Africa.

 

 


Dr Solomon Dersso


Prof Benyam Mezmur
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Centre for Human Rights welcomes reports on human rights situation in Eritrea

24 June 2015: Eritrea has been high on the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Council during its 29th Session, which is currently on-going in Geneva, Switzerland, with the release of two important reports, namely those of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea.

“It is indeed high time that the international community accords intensified scrutiny to the human rights situation in Eritrea, with 5 000 fleeing the country on a monthly basis because of violations of their basic rights”, said Prof Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, emphasized that Eritrea and the international community should nurture a long-term human rights perspective in the country. She provided an update on the situation of human rights in Eritrea on 24 June 2015, during the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council. She called on the Eritrean Government and the international community to bear in mind that trading human rights for short-term political or economic gains would undermine the long-term enjoyment of all human rights by all in Eritrea.

 

 


 
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Invitation to attend oral defence

Oral Defence: Ms Romola Adeola

You are invited to the oral defence of the doctoral thesis by Ms Romola Adeola.

Date: Friday 26 June 2015
Time: 12:00 - 13:00
Venue: Law 1-48, Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
 
Members of the public are invited to attend.
 
The topic of her dissertation is:
"Development-induced displacement in Africa: Striking a balance between the imperative of development and the rights of persons likely to be displaced"
 
Supervisor:
Prof Frans Viljoen
 

 

 


 
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ICC: Sad lesson of lofty ideals trumped by reality repeats itself

by Professor Daniel Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

The disappointment at South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to face genocide charges at the International Criminal Court is a sad reflection on the court’s poor record in living up to its lofty ideals. But, the world has seen it all before.

Idealism in global affairs

In August 1928, 15 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, gathered in Paris to sign a new international agreement. As signatories to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, they agreed to renounce war as an instrument of national policy and committed to using only peaceful means to settle disputes, regardless of their nature or origin.

Such was the enthusiasm for the agreement, which entered into force in 1929, that the original signatories were later joined by another 47 states, including the Soviet Union. Frank B. Kellogg, the prime architect of the treaty, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

 


 
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CHR and ICNL present Civil Society and Law course

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), University of Pretoria in partnership with the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) presented the advanced short course on Civil Society and Law.

The three-day intensive course was held from 10 – 12 June 2015, with over 45 participants including the current LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) students and representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from across Africa.

The role and benefits of civil society to citizens across the globe cannot be overemphasized. They are fundamental in articulating citizens’ demands and interests especially, where state policies and programmes of its agencies have either failed or neglected to take into account the concerns and needs of minorities and the poor in society. Citizens have been able to enjoy greater benefits from government programmes and policies as a result of organised action and cohesion by CSOs. The organisations have been celebrated for their contribution in advancing coordinated public action on matters of critical national and global concerns, and for protecting and promoting economic development and democracy.

 

 


 
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Symposium on the right of access to information in Seychelles

On 25 and 26 May 2015, the Seychelles Media Commission (SMC) in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, organised a symposium in Victoria, Seychelles. The purpose of the symposium was create an increased understanding of the right of access to information (ATI) amongst stakeholders in Seychelles and also to begin initial discussions on the content of an ATI law for Seychelles. The opening ceremony was attended by His Excellency, President James Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles, Ministers, Members of Parliament, CSOs, journalists and other stakeholders.

On the first day, general discussions were held on the right of access to information, its importance for promoting democracy, good governance and public participation as well as pitfalls to be avoided by Seychelles in the development of its ATI law, by drawing on experiences of other African States. On the second day, more focused discussions were held on the proposed content of the ATI Bill, using the Model Law as a guide.

 

 


 
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Five reasons why South Africa should not withdraw from the International Criminal Court Statute

by Professor Frans Viljoen, Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

The brevity of President Bashir’s visit to South Africa is disproportionate to its consequences.  For one thing, it poses questions about South Africa’s commitment to upholding the rule of law – both on the international and national plane.  But if media reports are correct, the visit may have a much more far-reaching and lasting effect. According to reports, the ANC National Executive Committee has come to the conclusion that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is no longer useful to Africa, and that South Africa should undo its ratification and leave the fold of ICC state parties.

The Centre for Human Rights urges the governing party to reconsider its view on this matter, for the following reasons:

1   Justifiably indicted for crimes against humanity, President Bashir should not dictate our agenda 

The timing of this push makes the conclusion inevitable that this insight has arisen in response to the Bashir debacle. For the ANC, then, this event marks a line in the sand. In the process, Bashir has come to personalize the growing discontent with the ICC’s perceived anti-African bias, and to represent anti-Western sentiment, more generally. This sentiment has been expressed clearly by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, who cast those instituting the legal challenge concerning Bashir in the role of opportunists who “pit African leaders against each other in the name of international law” (Statement, 15 June 2015).

 

 


 
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Call for Papers: Conference on the effective implementation of disability rights in Africa

The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites papers for a conference on disability rights in Africa.

About the Conference

The focus is on the effective implementation of disability rights to overcome barriers faced by children and youth with disabilities in Africa. The conference will be held at the Centre for Human Rights from 3 - 4 November 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference will coincide with the launch of the third issue of the African Disability Rights Yearbook. It is anticipated that papers presented at this conference will be reworked by authors and submitted for consideration for publication in the 2016 issue of African Disability Rights Yearbook.

Background

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) now enjoys at least 70 percent ratification by African States. However, without effective implementation, the obligations imposed on states by the CRPD would remain a distant promise to persons with disabilities in the African region.

 

 


 
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Capacity building workshop on state reporting on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

The Gender Unit of the Centre for Human Rights organised a 2 day workshop on increasing States’ capacity for reporting under the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Women’s Protocol) in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, in Rwanda. The workshop was held on 26 and 27 May 2015 at the Lake Kivu Serena hotel in Rwanda

Twenty two key government and civil society stakeholders involved in the state reporting process in Rwanda attended this workshop.

The main objectives of the workshop were to disseminate and popularise the Guidelines on State Reporting on the Women’s Protocol and to build and strengthen the capacity of the key stakeholders in Rwanda on state reporting under the Women’s Protocol.  Also, to ensure that the Rwandan government complies with its state reporting obligations under the Women’s Protocol.

Presentations were given on the African human rights system and the Women's Rights Protocol. An expert from Rwanda provided an overview of the situation of women’s human rights, highlighted progress and challenges in Rwanda.  A representative from the Ministry of Justice and the head of the State Reporting Unit in Malawi shared experiences of drafting Malawi’s state report on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Women’s Rights Protocol. This presentation was particularly beneficial considering that Malawi is the first country to have followed the guidelines on reporting on Part B on the Women’s Rights Protocol.

 

 


 
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