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Centre News & Events: 2014
Invitation: Conference on the rights of women with disabilities rights in Africa
The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a conference on the effective implementation of the rights of women with disabilities in Africa.

The Conference is on the theme ‘Overcoming obstacles: Towards the effective implementation of the rights of women with disabilities in Africa’ and will be presented by scholars, practitioners and disability activists from all over the world, but particularly from Africa.
Date: 4 and 5 November 2014
Time: 09:00 to 17:00
Venue: Auditorium,Plant Sciences Building, Hatfield Campus, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
RSVP:  Kindly confirm your attendance by Friday 31 October 2014 by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Enquiries: Ms Carole Viljoen (012 420 3810 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
GPS: 25°45’16.5”S 28°14’01.5”E

No registration fee is charged but pre-registration is compulsory.
 
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Centre for Human Rights celebrates human rights champion Navi Pillay

The Centre for Human Rights was on Friday 3 October 2014 privileged to play host to Ms Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She delivered a public lecture on her work as High Commissioner in the Senate Hall of the University of Pretoria.

In her introduction, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, spoke of Ms Pillay’s background in the anti-apartheid struggle as the first black woman to qualify as an advocate in the Natal Province, the first woman to open her own legal practice, and the first South African woman to obtain a Doctorate in Law from Harvard University. She described Ms Pillay as a great friend and supporter of the University of Pretoria and especially of the Centre for Human Rights, with which she has been associated for some 20 years. Ms Pillay was awarded the 2001 Women in Law Award by the Centre for Human Rights, and is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Pretoria (December 2009).

In her address, Ms Pillay spoke passionately of her years as the 5th UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the first woman from the global South to hold this position. She took the audience on a whirlwind tour of the challenges and responsibilities that accompany this office, which she decided for herself would mean being responsible for ‘every human right of every person everywhere in the world’.

 
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Land rights, gender views and climate change discussed at recent course on Indigenous Peoples' Rights

The penultimate advanced human rights short course for this year was presented by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria on - Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. It ran from 15 through 19 September, attracting participants and facilitators from across the world.

The UN Declaration on the Rights’ of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 came to the fore once more as participants engaged on the concept of ‘Indigenous Peoples’, land rights, gender views, international and national standards, regional mechanisms, climate change, challenges of and relevant ILO instruments relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.    

Participant’s views

“This course has given new strength and energy to engage the non-government and government for a process forward. My call is for an African Indigenous Network Alliance.
– Paramount Chief! Kora Hennie van Wyk, South Africa.

“The course provides a golden opportunity to participants from all-over Africa to interact, learn and share ideas and strategies on advocacy for the rights of indigenous peoples’.”
–  Achero David Mufuayia, Kenya.

 
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Pretoria Symposium: Position paper on preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians at risk

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa, with the assistance of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) through the Africa Military Law Forum (AMLF), held a symposium at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, from 18 to 19 September 2014 on the theme: “All Means Necessary”: Bridging the Gap between the Doctrine of R2P and the Actual Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts.

The Symposium brought together over 80 high ranking military officers of African states, academics, policy makers, and other practitioners in the field of protection of civilians who discussed, shared experiences and provided lessons learnt in order to find solutions to the legal, policy, and practical challenges involved in the drafting and adoption of the mandates for the protection of civilian (PoC) by the United Nations (UN) Security Council and their implementation on the ground.

The objective of the Pretoria Symposium was to identify innovative and effective means of preventing mass atrocities, and in the event of failure to prevent, explore how the humanitarian agencies and military should protect populations at risk, pursuant to Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) and the coercive element of the third pillar of the responsibility to protect (R2P).

 
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Meeting on utilising access to information for the realisation of sexual and reproductive health rights of women in Rwanda

On 9 and September 2014, the Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Open Democracy and Sustainable Development Initiative (ODESUNDI) and the Open Society Justice Initiative, held a meeting with local stakeholders on in Kigali, Rwanda on the implementation of the project on utilising access to information for the realisation of sexual and reproductive health rights of women in Rwanda.

The meeting brought together a broad range of stakeholders with considerable expertise access to information and sexual and reproductive health right (SRHR) issues in Rwanda, with a view to creating a shared understanding of the utility of access to information for the realization of sexual and reproductive health rights of women in Rwanda. At the end of that meeting, a Plan of Action setting out in detail the categories of information needed for the improvement of SHRH of women in Rwanda was developed.

It is expected that based on the outcome of the requests for information made by local project partners, an advocacy campaign will be developed to ensure the achievement of the project’s objectives.

The financial support of the Open Society Foundation - Human Rights Initiative for this project is gratefully acknowledged.

 
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Alumnus arrested and charged for offensive conduct after reporting on the displacement of residents of Mensah Guinea - a slum in Accra
Mr Joojo Cobbinah, a Ghanaian alumnus of the Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA) masters’ programme (2013) was arrested on Saturday, 6th September 2014 on the orders of the Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), also known as the Mayor of Accra.
 
Mr Cobbinah (the 2011 Human Rights Defender Award recipient and 2009 GJA Best Health Reporter) who is a journalist and a producer with Multi TV had gone with a team to film the living conditions of the people of Mensah Guinea community. This was after the AMA had demolished their houses upon a three days notice, rendering them homeless. As a result some of those displaced including women and children, slept in the open for lack of alternative housing arrangements.
 
Whilst Mr Cobbinah and his team interacted with the displaced people to inquire of their state, the police arrived at the scene with orders from the Mayor of Accra to arrest Mr Cobbinah and his team. The police first arrested the driver who drove Mr Cobbinah and his team to the community; and while the team was at the police station to arrange for the bail of the driver, Mr Cobbinah was also arrested and kept in police custody for three hours.
 
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Invitation to a talk by Prof Nick Huls: 'Rwanda: Rule of Law in the Mist’
The Centre for Human Rights and the Department of Mercantile Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites you to a talk by Prof Nick Huls from Leiden University, The Netherlands on
‘Rwanda: Rule of Law in the Mist’.

Prof Nick Huls has worked for a couple of years in Rwanda with judges, prosecutors and legislative drafters. After explaining the title of his talk, he will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the core institutions of the Rwandan legal system.

Debates about post-genocide Rwanda are polarized: is it a dicatorship or an African miracle? Huls takes a position in the middle. In his socio-legal approach he analyzes some arena’s for legal change: the extradition court for genocide suspects to Rwanda; a reflexive legal academy; a vital legal aid movement; and Abunzi, a form of conflict resolution without lawyers.

Date: Monday 29 September 2014
Time: 09:30 - 10:30
Venue: Centre for Human Rights Lecture Room, Room 2-2.1, Second Floor, Faculty of Law (opposite the Centre for Human Rights), Hatfield Campus, University of Pretoria
Enquiries: Mr Happy Shabangu (+27 12 420 2363 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Tea and coffee will be served after the talk.

 
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Invitation: Public lecture by Navi Pillay (Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, cordially invites you to a public lecture by Navi Pillay.

Navi Pillay is the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and will reflect on her time at the UN and discuss future human rights challenges.

Date: 3 October 2014
Time: 10:30 for 11:00
Venue: Senate Hall, Hatfield Campus, Lynnwood Road, Pretoria
RSVP: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 26 September

Enquiries: Carole Viljoen, 012 420 3810
GPS: 25°45’19.0”S 28°13’36.3”E

Light refreshments will be served after the lecture.

 

 
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Participants at Round Table urge SADC member states to reconsider their decision to suspend the SADC Tribunal and adopt the new Protocol

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, held a Round Table to discuss the restoration of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal on 28 and 29 August 2014.

The Round Table was attended by different stakeholders including former judges of the SADC Tribunal; a former judge of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ); officials from the SADC Tribunal, EACJ and Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice; lawyers from private and academic practice and officials from the Department of Justice, South Africa; the South African Law Society; researchers; and members of civil society.

The objective of the Round Table was to discuss the implications of the adoption of a new Protocol by the SADC Summit.

Some of the concerns raised include:

  • The new Protocol will deprive the people of SADC access to the SADC Tribunal;
  • The new SADC Tribunal gives access only to states;
  • The abolition of individual access before the SADC Tribunal contradicts the global trend;
  • The processes of the negotiation and adoption of the new Protocol were done in a non-transparent manner and excluded SADC citizens and civil society organisations, contrary to the letter and spirit of the SADC Treaty.
  • The SADC Tribunal initially allowed access to its employees to settle their disputes with SADC as its employer,  but by abolishing individual access, employees no longer have any legal recourse.
 
Some of the particpants at the
SADC Tribunal Round Table
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Invitation to a talk: Israel-Palestine Through the Lens of Racial Discrimination Law: Is the Analogy with South African Apartheid Accurate?
The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites you to a talk by Prof Robert Wintemute from King’s College, London on ‘Israel-Palestine Through the Lens of Racial Discrimination Law: Is the Analogy with South African Apartheid Accurate?’
Prof Wintemute will deliver a presentation on his research on Palestinian human rights. His research focuses on seeking just solutions that could permit reconciliation between Jewish-Israelis and Palestinians.
 
Speaker:  Prof Robert Wintemute, professor of human rights law, King’s College, London
Date: Tuesday 16 September 2014
Time: 10:30 - 11:30
Venue: Centre for Human Rights Lecture Room, Room 2-2.1, Second Floor, Faculty of Law (opposite the Centre for Human Rights), Hatfield Campus, University of Pretoria

Enquiries: Dr Magnus Killander (+27 12 420 5407 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
 
 
 
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Universities of Nairobi (Kenya) and Gaston Berger (Senegal) take the 23rd African Human Right Moot Court competition title

The combined team from the University of Nairobi, Kenya and the Université Gaston Berger Saint-Louis du Sénégal , who argued for the Applicant are the winners of the 23rd African Human Rights Moot Court competition.The runners-up, arguing for the Respondent, are the teams from University of Pretoria, South Africa and Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte d'Ivoire.

The winning team members are:

  • Eva Wangui Kimani, University Of Nairobi
  • Moreen Wanjiru Mwangi, University Of Nairobi
  • Mansour Fall, Université Gaston Berger De Saint Louis, Senegal
  • Marguerite Ounane Thiare, Université Gaston Berger De Saint Louis, Senegal

The runners-up are:

  • Alastair Dey Van Heerden, University Of Pretoria
  • Ralph Tinomutenda Chitambira, University Of Pretoria
  • Nadia Colette Wadja, Université Félix Huphouet Boigny Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Yacouba Sylla Koita, Université Félix Huphouet Boigny Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

Congratulations to the winners, runners-up and all the particpants!

The final round was argued on 6 September 2014 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

 
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Centre and University of Antwerp collaborates to present the Right to Development in Africa short course

The advanced short course titled 'The Right to Development in Africa' is the eight of ten short courses scheduled for presentation by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria in the current year. It ran from 25 to 29 August 2014 and was the result of a collaboration between the Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp, Belgium and was supported by the Delegation of the Flemish Government in South Africa.

This intensive week-long programme attracted participants from all the regions of Africa as well as Europe. Experts in development thinking, both from Africa and Europe, provided fresh insights and approaches to the ‘controversial’ issues around the subject of ‘Right to Development.’

Some of the speakers were:

  • Prof Michelo Hasungunle (Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)
  • Prof Wouter Vandenhole (University of Antwerp and UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights)
  • Dr Rita Ozoemena (Researcher, SAIFAC, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa)
  • Prof Cephas Lumina (Extra-ordinary Professor, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)
  • Dr Donald Rukare (Chief Executive Officer, Governance and Policy Research Centre, Uganda)
 
Prof Wouter Vandenhole
University of Antwerp and
UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights
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Invitation: Pretoria Symposium on preventing atrocities and protecting civilians in Africa
The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites you to the Pretoria Symposium on preventing atrocities and protecting civilians in Africa
 
ALL MEANS NECESSARY: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN THE DOCTRINE OF R2P AND THE ACTUAL PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT

Date: Thursday 18 September and Friday 19 September 2014
Time: 08:30 - 17:30 (both days)
Venue: Merensky Library Auditorium, Hatfield Campus, University of Pretoria

RSVP: Kindly confirm your attendance by Monday 15 September 2014 by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Enquiries Bright Nkrumah ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) / Carole Viljoen ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

There is no registration fee but pre-registration is compulsory. Refreshments and lunch will be provided for the duration of the conference.

 
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The finalists in the 23rd African Human Rights Moot Court Competition are from Kenya, South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire and Senegal

The Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the University of Nairobi is hosting the 23rd edition of the African Human Rights Moot Court competition.

This year, the competition will run from 1-6 September and is held in Nairobi, Kenya.

During the second and third day of the competition, student teams from various universities on the continent argue a hypothetical case before a panel of judges.

This year, due to the smaller number of teams that were registered, there will only be 2 Anglophone and 2 Francophone teams in the final. There will not be any Lusophone teams arguing in the final round.

The finalists were announced on 3 September after the results were verified by an independent auditor. The finalists to appear in the final round on 6 September 2014 are:

Applicant

  • University of Nairobi, Kenya
  • Université Gaston Berger Saint-Louis du Sénégal
Respondent
  • University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte d'Ivoire
 
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23rd African Human Rights Moot Court Competition kicks off in Nairobi, Kenya

The Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the University of Nairobi is hosting the 23rd edition of the African Human Rights Moot Court competition.

This year, the competition will run from 1-6 September and is held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The activites palnned for the first day of the competition inlcudes:

  • Registration of teams for preliminary rounds
  • Briefing session
  • Opening ceremony
  • Opening dinner

Documents:

 
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A call for restoring the SADC Tribunal: A Roundtable with Stakeholders, in the light of the experience of the East African and ECOWAS Courts of Justice

The Centre for Human Rights is hosting a Roundtable where the restoration of the SADC Tribunal will be discussed.  This Roundtable is taking place on 28-29 August 2014 at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

At its most recent session, the SADC Summit adopted the new Protocol on the SADC Tribunal. The main difference between this Protocol and the previous version lies in article 33, which reads as follows: The Tribunal shall have jurisdiction on the interpretation of the SADC Treaty and Protocols relating to disputes between Member States.

The effect of article 33 is to eliminate a previously existing competence of individuals to approach the Tribunal.

This Protocol is not yet in force (See articles 52 and 53):

  • Article 52: This Protocol shall be ratified by Member States who have signed the Protocol in accordance with their constitutional procedures.
  • Article 53: This Protocol shall enter into force thirty (30) days after the deposit of the instruments of ratification by two-thirds of the Member States.
 
SADC Tribunal
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Experts’ Roundtable on a draft Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa

An Experts’ Round Table on a proposed ‘Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa’ was held at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, on 21 and 22 of August 2014.

The Round Table is part of a consultative process, informing the elaboration of an African-specific treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities. The threshold question about the desirability and feasibility of adopting such a treaty with the African Union was also considered against the background of the fact that the UN in 2006 adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), 36 AU member states have become party to the CRPD.

The meeting was organised by the Centre for Human Rights and the Africa Disability Alliance (ADA), with participation of representatives from the African Union, relevant ministries, continental and sub-regional organizations of persons with disabilities, leaders of the disability movement from various African countries, parliamentarians, experts and researchers on disability as well as regional and international organisations. A total of some 50 participants from all over the continent participated in the discussion.

 
Deputy Minister for Social Development in South Africa,
Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu
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Clarification: Official South African Cabinet decision on Ebola

The South African government issued a statement on Ebola and travel bans in Africa on 21 August 2014. A lot of newspapers have reported wrongly on this travel ban. For the purpose of clarification, we post the official statement by the South African government.

Related links

Cabinet decision on Ebola

21 Aug 2014

The Cabinet met on 20 August 2014 and was presented with an update on the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria by the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Cabinet noted with concern the extent of the outbreak and the increase of cases in three of these countries, i.e Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, over the last week. Cabinet recognised that even though the outbreak has been limited to these countries in West Africa, the spread to other countries need to be contained. Cabinet recognized that containing the outbreak at source will be essential and limit the spread and mortality caused by the disease to these particular parts of the world.

 
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Centre alumnus appointed as member of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent

At the 26th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2014, Dr Sabelo Gumedze, an alumnus of the Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, was appointed as a member of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.

The Master’s Programme proudly presented by the Centre for Human Rights has 401 professionals from 36 African countries, Spain and the United States of America. Graduates of the Alumni Association have over the years been involved in human rights advocacy on the continent and beyond. The alumni network has become visible throughout the human rights milieu in Africa with alumni working in the academia, civil society organisations, national and inter-governmental institutions at the sub-regional, regional and global level. Dr Sabelo Gumedze belongs to the alumni association.

Prior to his appointment and following his graduation from the Masters programme in 2001-2002, Sabelo has had working relationships with various institutions including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; the University of South Africa (Limpopo Province Campus); the University of Limpopo and the Oliver Schreiner School of Law at the University of Witwatersrand. He has also worked as a consultant, partner and advisor with the United Nations, the African Union and civil societies. In 2012, Sabelo obtained a doctorate from the Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland.

 
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Professor Hansungule elected for second term as Commissioner on the International Commission of Jurists

The Centre for Human Rights would like to congratulate Prof Michelo Hansungule on being elected as a Commissioner on the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). Prof Hansungule will be serving his second term as Commissioner following his election first in 2009 and then re-election in 2014.

The ICJ is composed of 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, and aims to  promote and protect human rights through the Rule of Law, by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems.

Prof Hansungule is currently Professor of Human Rights Law at the Centre for Human Rights where he teaches on various Master's programmes and human rights courses. He has taught international human rights law at several universities worldwide including the University of Lund in Sweden, Mahidol University in Thailand, Essex University in the United Kingdom, University of Abo in Finland and University of Malta. He has taught in outreach programmes in over 48 African and non-African countries on human rights protection to judges, lawyers, governments and NGO officials.

 
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African Union Press Statement: The War on South Sudan’s children

African Union Press Statement: Advocacy Mission of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) on the situation of children in South Sudan (03-09 August, 2014)

The War on South Sudan’s children
(Juba, 08 August 2014)

1. The Committee has concluded that the present conflict can be characterised as nothing less than a war on the children of South Sudan. We have been exposed to an array of grave violations of their rights, which are interdependent and cumulative. These assault the very future of childhood  in South Sudan. The Committee has heard evidence that the impact of conflict of the last 8 months (since December 15) upon children is greater than in the entire 21 year period during which the war was ongoing. Moreover, the situation is deteriorating as I speak.

2, The following specific concerns have been brought to our attention and, seen together, are perilously close to constituting a crime against humanity that is being perpetrated against the children o South Sudan.

 
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