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Centre News & Events: 2016
25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition: Day 2

06 October 2016 - At around 8am, the participants and faculty representatives arrived at the TuksSport High School in different shades of suits and corporate wears for the kick off of the preliminary rounds of the competition. The participants were ready to appear as legal counsels before hypothetical judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights who were in fact the faculty representatives and lecturers from the participating universities.

Preliminary rounds were divided into two - morning and afternoon sessions. Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone participants argued separately and they were judged based on their knowledge of the facts, application of law – particularly African human rights law, articulation, analysis, persuasiveness, ability to respond to questions and oratory skills. No faculty representative could sit as a judge in the session where his or her students were mooting.

With the look of victory on their faces, the participants departed for dinner at the Holiday Inn. It was a challenging but rewarding day. 



25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition: Day 1

05 October 2016 - The African Human Rights Moot Court Competition aims to advance the cause of human rights in Africa by providing an opportunity to law students from across the continent to prepare and argue a hypothetical case before human rights experts. This year marks the 25th edition of the competition and the issues being argued by students include:

  1. The legality of withdrawal from the African court’s jurisdiction by African states;
  2. Conditions of detention;
  3. Freedom of association; and
  4. Gender and human rights of women.

This year’s edition of the Moot Court Competition is organised by the Centre for Human Rights in partnership with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as the Faculty of Law, University of The Gambia. The 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition attracted law students from 54 universities cutting across Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone speaking African countries. While some universities have attended more than 80 percent of the African Human Rights Moot Court Competitions (Rhodes, Fort Hare and Pretoria in South Africa; Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique and Chancellor's College in Malawi) others are participating for the first time. The first time participating universities are: Institute Universitaire d’ Abidjan (Cote d'Ivoire); Samara University (Ethiopia); University of Juba (South Sudan) and Universidad Politecnica (Mozambique).



Programme: African Human Rights Moot Court 2016

29 September 2016


Students & Faculty Reprentatives:
Holiday Inn Express, Sunny Park

(unless otherwise specified)
Breakfast & Supper: hotel
Teas & Lunch: UP

Preliminary Rounds
TuksSport High School, High Performance Centre, UP

Airport Shuttle
Shuttles will leave for the airport three (3) hours prior to take-off time.
Please consult the departure schedule at the hotel reception.

University of Pretoria
Yusuf Sayaad (English) – 074 186 5508
Damian Oakes (Français) – 072 588 2532
Eduardo Kapapelo (Português) – 082 514 6698



Invitation: 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition (Official Ceremonies)

23 September 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law cordially invites you to the Opening Ceremony (3 October 2016) and the Final Round, Prize-giving and Closing Ceremony (8 October 2016) of the 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition.

Opening Ceremony

Monday 3 October 2016 at 17:00
Pan African Parliament, Gallagher Estate, Midrand
Followed by a cocktail dinner at 18:30

Final Round, Prize-giving and Closing Ceremony

Saturday 8 October 2016 from 09:00 to 12:30
Amphitheatre of the Constitutional Court Braamfontein, Johannesburg

Dinner at 19:30
Utopia Place,  840 Cura Avenue, Equestria, Pretoria

RSVP by 30 September 2016
Mr Eric Lwanga: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

24 years | 1027 teams | 142 universities
representing  49 African countries




Eritrea: 15 years later still no information on jailed senior politicians and independent journalists

20 September 2016 - GENEVA (16 September 2016) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, today called on the Eritrean Government to urgently provide information on the whereabouts and state of health of senior government officials and independent journalists arrested on 18 September 2001 and in the following days.

Fifteen years ago, the Eritrean authorities arrested and detained a group of senior cabinet ministers, members of parliament and independent journalists without charge or trial. To date, the Government has refused to share any information on their whereabouts and state of health.

“The Eritrean Government has denied those arrested their fundamental right to liberty and security of the person, right not to be subjected to torture, right to a fair trial as well as right to freedom of expression and opinion,” Ms. Keetharuth said ahead of the anniversary on Sunday. “Those arrested have been detained incommunicado and in solitary confinement. Even family members have never been allowed to have any contact whatsoever with them.”



Centre for Human Rights expresses deep concern over the gross violation of judicial independence in the Constitutional Court of Zambia

16 September 2016 - Zambia has undertaken presidential and other elections on 11 August 2016. On 15 August 2016, the Electoral Commission of Zambia declared the incumbent Edgar Lungu the winner of the presidential election. However, presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema has claimed that election results were manipulated by the Electoral Commission to favour the incumbent.

Article 128(c) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act of 2016 provides that the Constitutional Court has jurisdiction to hear disputes related to presidential elections. Article 103(2) sets a timeframe of 14 days within which disputes relating to presidential elections have to be ‘heard’ by the Constitutional Court.

On 19 August 2016, presidential candidate Hichilema has petitioned the Constitutional Court. However, the Court’s record shows that technical irregularities and preliminary applications have consumed the 14 days period.




Centre for Human Rights hosts training for LGBTI human rights defenders

15 September 2016 - The failure of domestic law makes it important that the avenues of international law be explored. To achieve this objective, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria hosted a training for LGBTI human rights defenders on making effective use of the United Nations and African human rights systems.

About twenty human rights defenders from South Africa, as well as Lesotho, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe participated in the training workshop.

Among those conducting training sessions is the outgoing United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions Prof Christof Heyns, who is also based at the Centre.

The training is organised by the Centre’s fledgling SOGIE Unit, and is financially supported by a grant from the Government of the Netherlands through their Embassy in Pretoria.



Ms Bregje Wijsenbeek, Policy Officer Political Affairs,
Royal Netherlands Embassy, Pretoria

Centre for Human Rights plant trees in Winterveld to celebrate Arbor week

14 September 2016 - On 2 September 2016 the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria planted trees in to celebrate Arbor Week, which is held in the first week of September every year. Planting a tree is one of many ways in which we can build a sustainable environment and care better for our world. Centre staff travelled to Ya Bana Village for the children in Winterveld, North West of Pretoria, a place of safety for some 36 children. The children are cared for by house mothers in a set of beautiful homes on a vast well-kept ground. Centre staff was privileged to meet the founders and the staff of Ya Bana Village and observe the remarkable work they accomplish each day.

This Arbor week initiative forms part of a wider series of events celebrating 30 years of the Centre’s existence. What made Arbor Day significant to us at the Centre is that tree-planting symbolises the birth of new life and the beginning of something beneficial to all. Trees are an essential part of life and something we cannot live without. They are some of the longest living organisms on the planet and one of the earth's greatest natural resources. As we celebrate 30 years of existence this year, we have taken a step back to reflect on our journey. In 1986, we were a mere seed with goals and aspirations. Thirty years later we are offered the opportunity to look back on our contributions to the struggle for equality, justice and freedom in the world around us.



Press Statement: Centre for Human Rights calls on all schools and universities to act positively to accommodate diversity

12 September 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, is deeply concerned about the recent protests held by learners at the Pretoria High School for Girls challenging school policy that demanded them to straighten their hair. Even though the protests were aimed at questioning the school’s policy on hair and physical appearance, they obviously represented much more than that. The policy has highlighted an existing institutional culture of exclusion and a lack of appreciation for diversity not only within the school but also alerted us to the more pervasive culture of negating diversity at our educational institutions.

The school’s 2015/2016 Code of Conduct gives the impression that a certain kind of hair texture is the standard of acceptable hair (see Paragraph 6.4).  For example, by expressly stating in the Code of Conduct that ‘all hair must be brushed’ and ‘…be tied back neatly in a ponytail’, the school has failed to recognize and accommodate the wide variety of girls’ hair textures – especially black girls’ hair.



Statement of the Coalition for an Effective SADC Tribunal on Reinstatement of the SADC Tribunal (with access to individuals), addressed to the SADC member states (17/08/2016)

9 September 2016 - On the occasion of the 36th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC Summit), we the undersigned members of the Coalition for an Effective SADC Tribunal, are raising serious concerns over state parties insistence in denying access to justice to the citizenry of this region as per the revised SADC Tribunal Protocol. The Protocol strips the Tribunal of its jurisdiction to hear complaints from individual citizens of SADC. This is inspite of the guaranteed right for people’s participation in the SADC Declaration and Treaty under Article 23.

SADC remains an important sub-regional community though still characterized by varying atrocities and human rights violations with impunity, human and drug trafficking, violence against women and children, migration, mineral exploitation, election rigging and other concerns which the SADC Heads of State and Government committed to address in line with SADC Protocols. However therevised SADC Tribunal Protocol is in conflict with the SADC Declaration and Treaty and undermines human rights protection in the region. It further, limits citizens, civil society organizations and other non-states actors’accessto the Tribunal by only granting this access to state parties.



IDLU hosted a public lecture by Dr Andreas Dombret, Member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank

6 September 2016 - The International Development Law Unit, Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the ABSA Chair in Banking Law, Faculty of Law and the Economics Department, Faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Pretoria and the South African Institute for International Affairs hosted a public lecture by Dr Andreas Dombret, Member of the Executive Board, Deutsche Bundesbank on Tuesday 30 August 2016.

The lecture was titled “From Dream to Reality - How Finances Serve the Economy and How Not.”

The lecture was thought provoking and was followed a lively question and answer session. Thanks to the generosity of the South African Reserve Bank, participants were able to continue the discussion with Dr Dombret over tea after the lecture.

Download Dr Dombret’s full presentation



Colloquium on unmet adolescent sexual and reproductive needs in the African region: What can human rights do?

2 September 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, hosted a colloquium on adolescent sexual and reproductive rights. The colloquium which focused on the   theme Unmet adolescent sexual and reproductive needs in the African region: What can human rights do? was part of scholarly activities celebrating the Centre’s 30th anniversary. The theme of the colloquium was inspired by evidence of unfulfilled sexual and reproductive needs of adolescents across the African region.

During the two days, participants from across the African region presented and interrogated papers on topical issues at the intersection between adolescent sexual and reproductive needs and human rights, including cultural practices, early/forced marriages, contraception, sterilisation, disability, HIV/AIDS, criminalisation of adolescent sexuality, sexuality education, sexual violence, religion and role of regional human rights bodies in advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents. The ultimate focus of each paper was to identify persistent gaps and challenges in the respect, protection, promotion and realisation of sexual and/or reproductive rights of adolescents as well as to advance arguments for addressing the gaps and challenges using human rights jurisprudence and practices.

Papers presented at the colloquium will be reworked by the authors with a view to submission for consideration for publication in a special issue of the African Human Rights Law Journal in 2017.



Advanced Human Rights Courses (AHRC) celebrates 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development

30 August 2016 - The Advanced Human Rights Courses Programme (AHRC) held its annual short course on the right to development between 22 and 26 August 2016. The course aims to explore the content and scope of the right to development as enshrined in Article 22 of the African Charter as well as explore the challenges and opportunities of other international instruments in relation to development.

This year’s Advanced Human Rights Course on the Right to Development in Africa unlike in previous years has been one with many interesting dimensions and was organised in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development adopted in 1986. It also coincided with 30 years since the coming into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 30 years of the founding of the Centre for Human Rights.

The keynote address delivered by Ms Florence Nazare on behalf of the CEO of NEPAD provided an insight into NEPAD as a supra-national mechanism to drive Africa’s development agenda.

For the very first time, two South African ministers from the Departments of Basic Education and Rural Development and Land Reform taught on the course.  Hon Angelina Motshekga gave a lecture on ‘challenges towards universal and compulsory basic education in South Africa’ while Hon Gugile Ernest Nkwinti looked at ‘challenges to rural development in South Africa’.



Prof Michelo Hansungule with course participants
Press Statement: Centre for Human Rights releases a second press statement calling on Ethiopia, the African Union and the United Nations human rights monitoring mechanisms to take steps regarding the gross human rights abuses in Ethiopia

30 August 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is deeply alarmed by the deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia, and especially, the arbitrary killing, arrest and detention of protesters.

According to reports, the Ethiopian government forces have killed more than 500 protestors since November 2015, and have arrested and detained thousands.

We recall that on the eve of calls for protests, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile-Mariam has warned that measures will be taken against protesters. Eventually, when protests took place in the Amhara and Oromia regions in August 2016, nearly a hundred protesters were killed. The public statements of warning by the senior government officials stirred the suspicion that the ongoing human rights abuses by government forces are happening by the approval of the Ethiopian government.

Centre for Human Rights hosts focus group meeting on the development of Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections

23 August 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, recently held a focus group meeting on the development of Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections.

The meeting took place at the Aviator Hotel O.R. Tambo, Johannesburg, from 17 to 18 August. The focus group comprised of 12 representatives from civil society organizations and other stakeholders working on Elections, the Media or Access to Information.

The meeting was a follow-up to a meeting held in May in Kameeldrift, Pretoria, where more than 25 experts gathered to discuss the development of two sets of guidelines- one on Access to Information and Elections; the other on Access to Information and Record-keeping. The 14 representatives who met in Johannesburg last week were nominated to form the focus group for the development of Access to Information and Elections at this initial meeting.

Project Manager at the Centre for Human Rights selected for the Dutch Visitors Programme for young future leaders

22 August 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria is proud to announce that Josua Loots, a Project Manager at the Centre, has been selected to participate in the fifth official Dutch Visitors Programme (DVP).

Participants are nominated by Dutch Embassies around the world, who are then submitted to a selection process. The DVP is a special programme conducted by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs that brings together eight individuals from eight different countries for a study trip to the Netherlands.

The DVP was originally developed for young future leaders from emerging markets and powers like Brazil, India and China, but gradually expanded its scope to include other countries as well.

Participants of the DVP are hosted by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency for a ten-day visit that includes several individual and group meetings and events that focus on the professional and personal interests of each participant.

Josua works as a Project Manager and Researcher at the Centre for Human Rights, where he primarily focuses on business and human rights, and foreign policy. He is also busy with a PhD focusing on the implications of private investment in public infrastructure projects. The 2016 DVP will take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 9 - 19 October 2016.


Josua Loots
Disability Rights and Law Schools Project in Africa partners meeting

19 August 2016 - The Disability Rights and Law Schools Project in Africa partner universities met for a 3-day meeting at Pandari Hotel in Harare, Zimbabwe. The meeting which was held from the 1st to the 3rd of August was an opportunity for the network of university partners to discuss progress, challenges, opportunities and impact of the project at their respective universities and develop collective strategies for taking the project forward.

The network made up of the University of Botswana; Chancellor College, Malawi; Dodoma University, Tanzania; Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique; University of Nairobi, Kenya; Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa; University of Zambia and the Midlands State University Zimbabwe started in 2009. With the support of OSISA, OSF’s Higher Education Support Programme (HESP) and the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) the network of partner universities has been working to advance disability rights through introducing disability rights teaching into the law curriculum, establishing disability law clinics to identify and engage in litigation of cases pertaining to the violation of the rights of persons with disabilities; undertaking research and advocacy on disability rights issues and promoting awareness of disability rights among relevant stakeholders through community engagements.

Press Statement: Centre for Human Rights urges Angola to immediately and impartially investigate unlawful killing of 14-year old Rufino Antonio

18 August 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is saddened by the fatal shooting of 14-year old Rufino Antonio by members of the Angolan military police during a peaceful protest in Luanda on 6 August 2016.

The peaceful protests, organised by local residents against planned demolition for commercial and industrial purposes by the Luanda-Bengo Special Economic Zone, turned violent when members of the military police opened fire on unarmed peaceful protesters, killing the young Rufino.

The deployment of military police for the purpose of peaceful protests brings to light not only the continued and ongoing systematic failure of Angolan state institutions to deal with legitimate human rights concerns, but also the unnecessary and inappropriate use of force by security services. Recently, security services have brutally clamped down on peaceful gatherings. Many are arrested and detained for gathering in public places without the consent of the provincial government.

Despite the 2010 Angolan Constitution protecting the freedom of expression and speech in article 40 and freedom of assembly of persons in article 47, security forces have been known to impede such action before they even start, and in the process violating the law. Angola is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other international and regional instruments. Angola is therefore bound by both international and national law to respect the right of persons to exercise their right to peaceful protests.


Student card of Rufino Antonio, 14, who was killed by gunfire from the military police during a peaceful protest against home demolitions on August 6, 2016 in Zango II, Luanda, Angola.
© 2016 Human Rights Watch
Breakfast discussion at Centre for Human Rights on electoral reform points to more fundamental problems than changing the electoral system

18 August 2016 - The possibility of reforming South Africa’s national electoral systems was the topic of discussion at an event co-organised by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and the Centre for Constitutional Rights. The topic is very timely, in the wake of the recent local elections, with ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe recently calling for a debate about desirability of the proportional representation in the electoral system.

The discussion, which took place over breakfast at the University of Pretoria on 16 August 2016, considered the theme ‘The South African Electoral System, Time to Revisit the Van Zyl Slabbert Report?’. It was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. The panel discussion was moderated by Advocate Pansy Tlakula, former Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and current Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The panelists were Justice Johann Kriegler, another former chairperson of the IEC and former judge of the Constitutional Court, and Ms Raenette Taljaard, former Commissioner of the IEC.

The participants agreed that the current electoral system -- even if imperfect -- should not be the primary target of institutional reform. Instead, issues such as the democratic and inclusive culture within the political parties, and the transparency of funding to political parties, need to be more closely scrutinized and reformed. For things to change we need proper civil participation in the elections, extensive voter education, civil education and the meaningful inclusion of the Constitution in the basic educational syllabus.


Justice Johann Kriegler and Ms Raenette Taljaard at the Breakfast Discussion on electoral reform
Press Statement: Centre for Human Rights concerned about ongoing human rights violations in Ethiopia following the Amhara and Oromo anti-government protests

15 August 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, is deeply concerned by the ongoing human rights violations in Ethiopia following popular anti-government protests in the Amhara and Oromia regional states, as well as in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The Centre is particularly dismayed by the use of force against protesters and the killing of civilians by the police, security and military forces during the protests. According to reports, nearly 100 people have been killed in the recent Amhara and Oromo protests, while more than 400 people have been killed during the earlier Oromo protests which began in November 2015.

The Centre is further concerned by the fact that the government of Ethiopia continues to suppress the human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens including the rights to life, assembly, peaceful demonstration and the freedom of expression and association.

Considering the fact that Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union, and is regarded as a symbol of freedom against colonialism, the Ethiopian government is expected to have an exemplary human rights record to other African states. On the contrary, the government has been continually using force against peaceful protesters, which has often resulted in the death of a considerable number of people so far.

African Human Rights Court celebrates 10 years at Centre for Human Rights

11 August 2016 - Justice Bernard Ngoepe, the first and as yet only South African to have served as a Judge on the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Human Rights Court), recently lamented the lack of knowledge, awareness and interest among South African lawyers, and the public more generally, of this Court. The African Human Rights Court, which is the principal judicial organ of the African Union, this year commemorates 10 years’ existence. Judge Ngoepe made his remarks at an event hosted by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, on 4 August 2016, during which a panel reflected on the accomplishments and challenges of the Court’s first decade.

While the 10-year milestone in the operation of the African Human Rights Court is being celebrated in 2016, the legal instrument establishing the Court (a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights) was adopted in 1998, and became effective in 2004. The Court, which is based in Arusha, Tanzania, deals with cases of human rights violations in Africa. So far, 30 states have accepted the Court’s jurisdiction. Under the 1998 Court Protocol, states may also accept direct access to the Court by aggrieved individuals in that particular state. To date, eight states have made such a declaration (although Rwanda has recently withdrawn its declaration).

While South Africa ratified the Court Protocol in 2002, thereby accepting the Court’s jurisdiction, it had not made a declaration to allow individuals direct access to the Court. This means that individuals in South Africa first have to approach the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (which makes non-binding recommendations). A case against South Africa can only ever reach the Court if the Commission decides to refer the case to the Court.



Justice Bernard Ngoepe
Retired Judge on the African Court
on Human and Peoples’ Rights
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