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Centre News & Events: 2017
Where is democracy?: Reflections on the ascendancy of Mnangagwa as president of Zimbabwe

27 November 2017 - (By Charles Ngwena) What seemed unimaginable has happened. After an uninterrupted ‘reign’ of 37 years, Robert Mugabe, the de facto emperor of Zimbabwe, has ‘resigned’ from office. There has been genuine jubilation not least among those who have been at the receiving end of Mugabe’s increasingly despotic, corrupt and dysfunctional governance – the majority of Zimbabweans. Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken office as Mugabe’s successor. It is a historic moment. Since attaining independence in 1980, Zimbabweans have only known Mugabe as their political supremo – initially as prime minister and latterly as president. The fact of Mugabe’s departure from office, alone, has raised hopes that we might be at the cusp of a compassionate, fairer, humane and democratic Second Republic. At the same time, the clouds are pregnant with contradictions, counselling us not to throw caution aside even as we pine for change. Why is this? 

Emmerson Mnangagwa (left), then–Vice President of Zimbabwe, chats with President Robert Mugabe in Harare in 2014. (AP Photo / Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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Press Statement: Civil Society group (Coalition for an Effective SADC Tribunal) mourns the demise of the SADC Tribunal

21 November 2017 - On 18 November 2005, the Southern Africa Development Community Tribunal (SADC Tribunal) was inaugurated as a judicial body established to resolve disputes between Southern African states and between states and their citizens. At that time, there were many celebrations around the inauguration of the Tribunal because a regional court with the power to hear human rights cases is a critical mechanism in the pathway to justice after exhaustion of local remedies. However, the celebrations were short-lived. In 2009, Zimbabwe challenged the legitimacy of the Tribunal stating that it had not been established according to international law norms. This led to suspension of the Tribunal by decision of SADC leaders, in 2010.

 
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Announcement: Global Campus Human Rights Week, Pretoria, South Africa

16 November 2017- The Global Campus Human Rights Week will be held during the week from 4 to 9 December 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. The events will feature a film screening and discussion on African cinema and human rights, meetings of institutional and governance structures of the Global Campus, a visual / performance art and panel discussion on the rights of women and LGBTIQ persons, a multi-disciplinary conference on contemporary and future challenges to democracy worldwide and the graduation of the 18th cohort of students on the Master’s degree programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa. The event is organised by the Global Campus of Human Rights in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. The conference is realised thanks to the European Union. 

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27th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition to be held in Ghana

15 November 2017- It has been confirmed! The 2018 African Human Rights Moot Competition will take place in Ghana, and will be co-organised by the School of Law, University of Ghana and the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

On 14 November 2017, the University of Ghana joined a small group of African Universities that have twice hosted the African Human Rights Moot Competition, when its Vice Chancellor and the Centre’s Director signed a Memorandum of Understanding, providing that  the Moot will be hosted in Accra, from 6 to 11 August 2018.

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Disability Rights Scholarship Programme Alumni meet to discuss prospects for academic advancement and regional and country progress on disability rights

14 November 2017- On 9 November 2017, twenty three (23) alumni of the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme met at Saint George Hotel in Pretoria following the culmination of the 5th Annual African Disability Rights Conference. The purpose of the alumni meeting was to establish and form a platform for the alumni to network, share information about the scholarship programme, prospects for academic advancement and collaborate on issues pertaining to regional and country progress on disability rights. 

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Partner universities reflect on the status of disability inclusive policies and practices at their universities

10 November 2017- The importance of inclusive education has been recognised globally as critically important for the advancement of the right to education. The retention and successful throughput of students with disabilities in higher education institutions is at a critical juncture. In Africa, the transformation of higher education systems so that they provide quality inclusive education for all students is in its infancy.Students with disabilities are for the greater part still not able to equally participate in higher education institutions as their abled bodied counterparts. The Disability Rights and Law Schools Project in Africa partner universities met in Pretoria to discuss the current state of inclusion in higher education with regards to students with disabilities. 

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Opening the 5th Annual African Disability Rights Conference with a keynote address from Dr Samuel Kabue

8 November 2017- Dr Samuel Kabue, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD Committee), welcomed the Conference’s thematic focus, which is on legal capacity. He noted that the Committee has been grappling with the concept of ‘legal capacity’, and its practical application, especially in Africa. He lamented the fact that even for states that have ratified, the implementation of the CRPD is impeded by a lack of state reporting, a failure to accept individual complaints and failure to designate national monitoring mechanisms for the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities.

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Centre for Human Rights hosts a regional planning meeting with the UN Independent Expert on the rights of persons with albinism

8 November 2017- A group of representatives of organizations working on the protection of persons with albinism in Africa convened in Pretoria on Monday 6 November 2017 at the call of the United Nations Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism, Ms. Ikpwonosa Ero. Ms. Ero’s mandate as the Independent Expert was created in 2015 by the UN Human Rights Council, to address discrimination and stop the killings of people living with albinism.

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Centre for Human Rights, Iranti-org and SIPD-Uganda host panel discussion on intersex human rights in Africa

7 November 2017- On Saturday 4 November 2017, the Centre for Human Rights (Centre) in partnership with Iranti-org and SIPD -Uganda convened a panel discussion on intersex human rights in Banjul, The Gambia. The event came on the side-lines of the 61st ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) which is taking place from 1-15 November. This was monumental considering that the African Commission is celebrating its 30 years anniversary and achievements ever-since it became operational 30 years ago.

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Call for Enrollments: MOOC on the International and African Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Safety of Journalists

3 November 2017- The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria and UNESCO developed a massive open online course (MOOC) on the International and African Legal Framework on Freedom of Expression, Access to Information and the Safety of Journalists. The MOOC, which runs from 13 November to 18 December 2017, is hosted on the Canvas Network platform. Enrollment is free of charge and after the successful completion of all the modules, participants will receive a certificate.

 

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Announcing the African Disability Rights Conference 2017 on domesticating the CRPD in the African region: A focus on access to justice and legal capacity

3 November 2017- Only a few days to go! Files are packed, presentations rolled out and stakeholders from all across Africa are getting ready to attend the 5th Annual African Disability Rights Conference that will be held from 7 to 8 November 2017 at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in South Africa.  The array of participants include scholars, researchers, practitioners, human rights activists, advocates for law reform, persons with disabilities, civil society groups, lawyers, policymakers, and analysts.

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Centre for Human Rights hosts the South African government and CSO’s on compliance with the Concluding Observations issued by the African Commission on the Rights of Women in South Africa

1 November 2017- By ratifying the Maputo Protocol in 2004, South Africa made a commitment to improve the status and protect the rights of women and girls in the country. It also committed under Article 62 of the African Charter and Article 26 (1) of the Maputo Protocol to submit periodic reports to the African Commission every two years from the time of ratification, highlighting the steps taken to guarantee the rights of women and girls. After consideration of these reports, concluding observations and recommendations are given to State Parties to guide them on the implementation of the rights as mentioned in the treaty.

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Centre for Human Rights and UNESCO present training for judges in Africa on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists

30 October 2017- The Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) held a three-day judicial training for judges from across Africa. The training which focused on freedom of expression, access to information and the safety of journalists took place from 23 to 25 October. 

In attendance were senior judges from Cameroon, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mozambique, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. There was also a judge from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community of Court of Justice.

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SOGIE Unit celebrates outstanding LGBTI icons in Africa

26 October 2017- The Centre for Human Rights works for the improvement of the human rights of minorities - including sexual minorities - and other disadvantaged or marginalised persons or groups across the continent.

Funded by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria, the Centre's SOGIE Unit focuses on education, capacity-building, advocacy and legal aid in the area of LGBTI rights and anti-discrimination. This poster highlights great Africans who identify as LGBTI persons, who are leaders in their field, and whose work contributes to the realisation of sexual minority rights in Africa.

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Call for Applications: Research consultant on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights

25 October 2017- The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is looking for a research consultant to prepare a baseline report on the impacts of the extractive industries on human rights and the environment in Africa. This work forms part of a project in which the CHR offers support to the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment, and Human Rights (WGEI) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission).

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Women’s Rights Unit facilitates meeting in Malawi on the African Commission’s Concluding Observations of the Maputo Protocol

25 October 2017- On Wednesday 18 October 2017, the Women's Rights Unit of the Centre for Human Rights (the Centre) organised a one-day meeting with Government and civil society organizations on Malawi’s compliance with the concluding observations issued by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) specifically in relation to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). The meeting was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Malawi. The meeting brought together a total of about 20 stakeholders from the relevant government ministries, National Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman and Civil Society Organisations involved in the state reporting process in the country. The meeting was held at the Sunbird Capital hotel, in the capital city of Lilongwe. 

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Call for applications: LLD/DPhil in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa

24 October 2017 - The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, calls for applications for full-time doctoral scholarships in the field of sexual and/or reproductive rights and their intersection with culture or criminalisation in the African region.

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Press statement: LGBTI Human rights defenders and lawyers express grave concern over continuing harassment of LGBTI rights defenders, activists, educators and supporters

23 October 2017 - We, LGBTI human rights defenders and human rights lawyers, having gathered at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa, from  16 to 19 October 2017 for a training on Strategic Advocacy and Litigation for LGBTI Human Rights Defenders in Africa, strongly condemn the harassment, arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention of ordinary citizens  perceived to be gay in Egypt and Burundi; human rights activists working with health rights organisations in Tanzania; as well as  human rights lawyers planning to litigate a case on LGBTI health rights in Tanzania.

LGBTI human rights defenders and human rights lawyers who gathered at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa, from 16 to 19 October 2017 for a training on Strategic Advocacy and Litigation for LGBTI Human Rights Defenders in Africa
 
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Call for Applications: Disability Rights Scholarship Programme (Open Society Foundations)

23 October 2017- The Disability Rights Scholarship Programme provides awards for master’s degree study to disability rights advocates, lawyers, and educators to develop new legislation, jurisprudence, policy, research, and scholarship to harness the innovations and opportunities offered by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

With the knowledge and networks gained through the program, we expect that fellows will deepen their understanding of international law and education, with a focus on disability rights, and gain the tools necessary to engage in a range of CRPD implementation strategies, such as: challenging rights violations in their home countries by drafting enforceable legislation consistent with the CRPD; utilizing enforcement mechanisms set forth in the convention; taking forward disability rights litigation requesting CRPD-compliant remedies; engaging in disability rights advocacy; and developing law, education, or other academic curricula informed by the CRPD.

 

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Faculty of Law enters into MoU with Pan-African Parliament to advance the agenda of good governance in Africa

18 October 2017- The Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria (UP) on 17 October 2017 entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). The foreseen collaboration will be spear-headed by the Centre for Human Rights, but may involve other departments, centres, institutes and units in the Faculty of Law.



Prof Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Honourable Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan-African Parliament

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Invitation: Seminar on South Sudan and issues arising from narratives on human rights and armed rebellion

17 October 2017- The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a seminar on South Sudan and issues arising from narratives on human rights and armed rebellion.

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