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Centre News & Events: 2016
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.

 
 
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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
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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.

 
 
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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
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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
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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.

 
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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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Call for Abstracts: 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition Conference - 'African Human Rights System @ 30: Taking stock, Moving Forward'

29 July 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria in collaboration with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) and the Faculty of Law, University of The Gambia invites abstracts for a conference celebrating the African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on women.

The Conference will be held as part of the 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition co-organised by the three institutions in Pretoria, South Africa from 3 to 8 October 2016.

The year 2016 marks:

  • 30 years since the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter);
  • 10 years since the African Court became operational;
  • 30 years of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria.
 
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Call for contributions, participation and attendance: Colloquium - 30/30: How far have we come; how far will we go?

29 July 2016 - Invitation to all the friends and alumni of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (of the various academic programmes, moot court competitions and short courses).

2016 is a special year

At the continental level, the African Union’s Year of Human Rights (with a focus on women’s rights) marks the entry into force of
the African Charter on Human and Peoples’
Rights, 30 years ago.

At the Centre for Human Rights, we mark 30 years of existence.

Over these 30 years, the Centre’s academic programmes, projects and partnerships have focused on the African regional human
rights system, with the African Charter at its core. The Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, in
particular, with its 14 partner faculties across the continent, and 456 graduates around the continent and beyond, has seen a convergence between the agendas of the Centre and the African human rights system.

 
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Invitation: The Constitution and Good Public Leadership: Breakfast Discussion Series 2016

29 July 2016 - Join us for a breakfast discussion on Tuesday 16 August 2016, hosted by the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR) and the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) at the University of Pretoria, supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).

Topic:
“The South African Electoral System: Time to Revisit the Van Zyl Slabbert Report?”

Goal:
Incubating, enhancing constitutional democracy and sustaining the South African national good governance dialogue through a series of strategic and relevant conversations linked to learning governance

Speakers:

  • Justice Johann Kriegler
    (former Judge of the Constitutional Court) and
  • Ms Raenette Taljaard
    (former Member of Parliament, former Commissioner of the IEC)
 

Justice Johann Kriegler and Ms Raenette Taljaard
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Final Results: 8th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition 2016

29 July 2016 -  The Centre is delighted to announce the successful presentation of the 8th edition of the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition, which was held at Palais des Nations – the seat of the United Nations Office in Geneva – from 18 to 20 July 2016.

The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition has been presented every year for the last 8 years, bringing together some of the youngest and brightest law students from universities all around the globe to debate burning contemporary human rights issues on the basis of a common UN human rights system, influenced by national and regional perspectives and experiences. The Competition is unique in reaching a broad base of participants, including from those parts of the world where regional human rights systems have not been established, or have only been recently introduced.

Participants

In 2016, the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition brought together the following participants from the five UN regions:

 

The winning team (Ms Helaina Hirsch and Mr William Bock) with Justice Johann van der Westhuizen
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Invitation: Discussion Forum - The African Court at 10

27 July 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, cordially invites you to a Discussion Forum that forms part of a series of events, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Centre of Human Rights in 2016.

The discussion aims to reflect on the achievements of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, a continental court established in terms of a Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ rights. The court which is based in Arusha, Tanzania, complements and reinforces the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, in relation to its protective mandate.

Date: Thursday 4 August 2016
Time: 12:30 to 14:00, followed by lunch
Venue: Room 2-2.1, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus (opposite the entrance to the Centre of Human Rights)
RSVP: Kindly confirm your attendance by Monday 1 August 2016 by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Enquiries: Ms Tokollo Makgalemele (012 420 3810 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

 
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Centre for Human Rights honours Nelson Mandela at UN headquarters in Geneva

18 July 2016 -  The 8th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court competition is currently underway in Geneva, Switzerland. For the past seven years, the competition was held in December to coincide with International Human Rights Day. From 2016 onwards the competition will be held on and around 18 July to celebrate the birthday of late South African President Nelson Mandela.

This year twenty-five teams coming from the five United Nations regions are participating in the annual competition where a hypothetical human rights case is being argued before a number of human rights experts. The countries represented at this year’s edition of the moot court competition are:

  • Africa:
    Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  • Asia-Pacific:
    India, China, Japan, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand
  • Eastern Europe:
    Belarus
  • Latin America & Caribbean:
    Argentina, Brazil
  • Western Europe and Others:
    Australia, United States of America
 

The Nepalese team from Purbanchal University
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Short Course on Business and Human Rights, 4 - 8 July 2016

12 July 2016 -  The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, hosted its first short course on business and human rights at the University of Pretoria from 4 - 8 July 2016. The course brought together 50 people from across Africa, mainly representing civil society, national human rights institutions, and academia. The course was organised with support from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for Southern Africa.

The short course brought experts on business and human rights from across the globe to present lectures on issues that included a general introduction to business and human rights, business and human rights policy, judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms, the African regional human rights system, illicit financial flows, human rights in the project cycle, access to remedy, debates around a potential treaty on business and human rights, and free, prior and informed consent.

As part of the 2016 short course, participants also had the opportunity to attend the General Assembly of the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), which took place at the University of Pretoria from 6 - 7 July 2016. The ACCA is a coalition of more than 100 organisations working on business and human right issues in Africa, which spans across the continent to include members from Southern, Eastern, Central and West-Africa. The ACCA is currently hosted by the Centre for Human Rights.

 
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Call for Applications: Projects Manager, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

12 July 2016 -  The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) at the University of Pretoria is seeking an experienced Projects Manager to manage the activities of its flagship Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa and the Human Rights Clinics attached to this programme. The appointment will be on a fixed-term renewable contract for one year, subject to the availability of funding and performance. The Master’s programme has been running since 2000. 

FACULTY OF LAW

CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

PROJECTS MANAGER (ONE YEAR CONTRACT POSITION)

PEROMNES POST LEVEL 8

In pursuit of the ideals of excellence and diversity, the University of Pretoria wishes to invite applications for the following vacancy.

The University of Pretoria’s commitment to quality makes us one of the top research universities in the country and gives us a competitive advantage in international science and technology development.

 

 
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Call for Applications: LLD/DPhil Scholarship, centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

12 July 2016 -  The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), University of Bergen calls for applications for a full-time doctoral candidate with a focus on political and legal mobilisation around sexual and reproductive rights in Africa. The candidate will be based at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

About the Scholarship

The scholarship is linked to the political determinants of sexual and reproductive health: Criminalisation, health impacts and game changers. The scholarship or research project uses quantitative as well as qualitative methods to investigate the political strategies and dynamics that lead to politicisation, criminalisation or decriminalisation of abortion and same-sex intimacy. The project also investigates the health implications that follow from the strategies and dynamics. The empirical focus of the project is on ten African countries: Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

This scholarship is comprehensive, covering tuition fees, travel and living expenses and ancillary costs.

 
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Symposium on realising the rights of persons with disabilitiies held at the University of Nairobi, Kenya

11 July 2016 -  On 13 December 2016 it will be the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Convention which came into force in 2008 has to date been ratified by 43 African countries including Kenya. The Disability Rights Project at the University of Nairobi’s School of Law hosted a public symposium at its Parklands Campus on the 30th of June 2016 to explore the character, prospects and challenges of realizing the rights of persons with disabilities protected under the CRPD in Kenya and regionally.

Professor Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Dean of the School of Law opening the symposium cautioned that constitutional provisions in law affirming that all people are equal before the law do not automatically make people equal. There is a need particularly in the context of historically marginalised groups to go a step further to dismantle the underlying systems and structures that continues to perpetuate unequal treatment of the group. She added that a lack of recognition of persons with disabilities in the main provisions of law often shields systemic institutional barriers.

Professor Charles Ngwena, Professor at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria reflected on the question of whether the CRPD is a revolutionary paradigm-shifting human rights instrument. He said that the CRPD introduces a new way of thinking about human rights and the rights of persons with disabilities by putting difference and particularity at the centre of the discussion. More than just affirming existing rights, the CRPD amplifies the rights of people with disabilities through innovative affirmation.

 
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Press Statement: Centre for Human Rights condemns the recent systematic killings in Kenya

8 July 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, expresses its deepest condolences to the families of Willie Kimani, Josephat Mwenda and Joseph Muiruri who were killed in Kenya on or around 23 June 2016. On 23 June 2016, Willie Kimani, a Kenyan human rights lawyer working for International Justice Mission, and his client Josephat Mwenda, attended the hearing of a criminal case at Mavoko Law Courts in Machakos County, Kenya. Mr Mwenda, a motorcycle operator, was charged with overloading and possession of marijuana.

It appears that the charges against Mr Mwenda were proffered against him by police officers in an attempt to conceal unprofessional conduct by one officer who had allegedly shot Mr Mwenda unprovoked during a routine traffic inspection. Mr Mwenda had reported the alleged incident to the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) and the matter was under investigation. It appears that the fabricated charges were designed to intimidate Mr Mwenda into withdrawing the complaint. On the fateful day, Mr Kimani, his client and a taxi driver, Joseph Muiruri, who had picked them from court mysteriously disappeared. Their bodies were found several days later in River Ol-donyo Sabuk, stuffed in sacks with heads covered in polythene bags.
 

Students on the Centre's Master's programme on Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa are asking for justice and to stop extrajudicial killings in Kenya
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Press Statement: Centre for Human Rights regrets South Africa’s global renunciation of domestic protection for sexual minorities

6 July 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, notes with regret that the South African government did not support the recent establishment of a United Nations watchdog to monitor and report on violence and discrimination world-wide against persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Taken at face value, abstaining from supporting this measure is perplexing. The substantiation given for our vote is not convincing. The onus remains on the government to fully explain to all South Africans why it has taken this approach.

The UN Human Rights Council, the UN’s main human rights body, on 30 June 2016 decided by a vote of 23 against 18 (with 6 abstentions) to create this position. It is formally called the ‘’Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’’, and will serve for a period of three years.

South Africa sits on the 47-member Council. Of the 13 African states on the Human Rights Council, 9 voted against the resolution. These states joined Saudi Arabia, a state infamous for state-sponsored terror against LGBT persons. The six abstaining states are, in addition to South Africa: Botswana, Ghana, India, the Maldives, and the Philippines.

 
 
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Centre for Human Rights hosts its first short course on Business and Human Rights

5 July 2016 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, is hosting its first Short Course on Business and Human Rights in Pretoria from 4 - 8 July 2016. This Course was made possible through support received from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for Southern Africa.

The Course brings together 55 participants from 18 African countries to learn about and discuss issues around business and human rights that include access to remedies, free prior and informed consent, extractive industries, illicit financial flows and development finance.

The Course participants will also have the opportunity to attend the General Assembly of the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability (ACCA), also taking place at the University of Pretoria from 6 - 7 July 2016. The ACCA is a coalition of more than 90 civil society organisations working on business and human rights in Africa.

 

 



Dr Solomon Dersso, Commissioner,
African Commission on Human and People's Rights

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Opinion piece: South Africa should keep standing up against violence against LGBT persons – at home and abroad

29 June 2016 - As the spotlight falls on the adoption of South Africa’s landmark Constitution, 20 years ago this year, one of its striking features -- the inclusion of the first-ever constitutional guarantee of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation -- is also under global scrutiny.

The scene is set at the current session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, until Friday 1 July. The Human Rights Council is the UN’s primary human rights body, tasked with advancing and overseeing the protection and promotion of human rights in UN Member States. South Africa is currently represented in the 47-member Council.

Seven Latin American States (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay) have tabled a resolution calling for the establishment of an Independent Expert on Protection against Violence and Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. One of the means through which the Council aims to ensure the realisation of human rights is the appointment of Independent Experts dealing with specific human rights themes (such as torture and violence against women).

 


 
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