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Centre News & Events: 2014
Seminar on failed peacemaking in Sudan and South Sudan

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites you to a seminar on ‘Failed peacemaking in Sudan and South Sudan: Persistent and new wars 10 years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement’

Three years after independence South Sudan is again at war. At this seminar Dr Sharath Srinivasan (University of Cambridge) will share his insights into the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan based on his extensive research in the region for over a decade.

Speaker  Dr Sharath Srinivasan, Director, Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR), University of Cambridge
Date  Thursday 3 July 2014
Time  17:00 - 18:30
Venue  Centre for Human Rights Lecture Room, Second Floor, Faculty of Law (opposite 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 )

 
 
Students demonstrate human rights and democracy (or the need thereof) through photography

The LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa is a unique programme to which 25-30 individuals from African countries are admitted. The programme is presented by the Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

In the spirit of mutual exchange aimed at strengthening the links between the regional human rights master’s programmes, and following the positive experience of the EMA programme in this area, the African Human Rights Master’s Degree introduced an amateur photography competition on human rights and democratisation in 2009.                               

Students of the LLM/MPhil Programme took part in this competition, whose aim it is to promote the ideals of human rights and democratisation through still pictures. Only currently enrolled students of the LLM/MPhil programme may take part in this competition; only photographs taken during the 2014 field trips may be submitted.

 
 
A plea for the children of Eritrea: Unaccompanied, separated and fleeing from a militarised society

Statement by the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria on the Day of the African Child, 16 June 2014 about the state of the child in Eritrea

The Unaccompanied children of Eritrea: a plea for collective responsibility

As the African continent celebrates the Day of the African Child, 16 June 2014, the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), University of Pretoria, focuses on the plight of unaccompanied children fleeing from a militarised society that is destabilising the social fabric of the country. Thousands of unaccompanied minors take risky journeys across the borders into Ethiopia, Sudan and further afield.

The Children of Eritrea: No escape from the military

Eritrea’s circumstances are unusual as the country is not at war but the society is highly militarised. The continuing border dispute with neighbouring Ethiopia is cited as the key reason for the prevailing condition that Eritrea terms as ‘no war-no peace’. Eritrea uses this situation to impose a conscription programme that is both forced and indefinite, spawning a constant exodus of refugees out of the county. Youth below 18 years of age often refer to the fear of military service as one of the main factors pushing them to escape. 

 
 
Experts meeting on the Draft State Reporting Guidelines for the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance

On 4 and 5 June 2014, the Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, held an experts meeting on the draft state reporting guidelines for the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (Democracy Charter) in Pretoria, South Africa.

The meeting brought together a broad range of stakeholders with considerable expertise on human rights, democracy and election issues, to review the current draft State Reporting Guidelines, with a view to facilitating the domestication and implementation of the Democracy Charter by Member States. Participants included government officials, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), Regional Economic Communities, (RECs), academics and civil society organisations focusing on issues of democracy, human rights and governance from across the continent.

The first day of the meeting focused on broader issues of the processes for the preparation, submission and review of State Reports, as well as mechanisms for the implementation of the concluding observations made by the African Governance Platform (comprising organs of the African Union responsible for democracy, human rights and governance issues as well as Regional Economic Communities, charged with the consideration of State Reports under the Democracy Charter) to States Parties following the consideration of State Reports.

 
 
Centre calls for the acquittal and immediate release of alumnus Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu
Statement: Centre for Human Rights calls for the acquittal and immediate release of Thulani Rudolf Maseko and Bheki Makhubu

The Centre for Human Rights expresses dismay at the arrest of MessrsThulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu, by the Royal Swaziland Police Service on 17 and 18 March 2014, and their continued detention. Mr Maseko is a Swazi human rights lawyer and graduate of the Centre’s Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa; Mr Bheki Makhubu is the editor of the New Nation magazine.

According to news reports, Mr Maseko is charged with “scandalising the judiciary and contempt of court”. Mr Maseko’s arrest arises out of his exercise of freedom of expression through newspaper articles that he has authored, including articles critical of the continued retention of Mr Michael Ramodibedi, the man who ordered Mr Maseko’s arrest, as Chief Justice of Swaziland. It should be noted that the Chief Justice resigned from the Judiciary of Lesotho amidst impeachment charges on 22 April 2014.

The Centre for Human Rights regards these charges as orchestrated measures to shut down the voice of democracy even in violation of the Constitution of Swaziland.

 
 
Invitation to a public screening of the documentary film 'Paragraph 175'

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in association with the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre invites you to a public screening of ‘PARAGRAPH 175’

During the Nazi regime, there was widespread persecution of homosexual men and women. Thousands were murdered in concentration camps. Paragraph 175 – a powerful and disturbing documentary, narrated by Rupert Everett – presents for the first time the largely untold testimonies of those who survived.

Venue:    Law Auditorium(1-54), Law Building , UP
Date:       Friday, 6 June 2014
Time:       12:00 - 14:00

Entrance is free. No RSVP necessary.

This public screening of Paragraph 175  is arranged in conjunction with the ‘In Whom Can I Still Trust?’ exhibition that is on view in the Law Building until 13 June 2014.

 
 
Human rights students participate in the Global Classroom held in Venice, Italy

From 12 - 16 May 2014 three students from the LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, participated in the 2nd edition of the Global Classroom held in Venice, Italy.

The Global Classroom (GC) falls under the auspices of the Global Campus programme involving the University of Sydney, University of Pretoria, University of San Martin, Buenos Aires, Yerevan State University, University of Sarajevo and the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation.

The aim of the classroom is to create an integrated, multilateral form of interaction among students across the different regional masters within the network.

At each year’s edition of the Global Classroom, students discuss around contemporary issues of international law, development and human rights.

 
 
African Commission adopts first ever resolution on sexual orientation in Africa

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights adopts first resolution ever on sexual orientation as it condemns violence against persons on basis of sexual orientation

RESOLUTION ON PROTECTION AGAINST VIOLENCE AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST PERSONS ON THE BASIS OF THEIR REAL OR IMPUTED SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR GENDER IDENTITY

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), meeting at its 55th Ordinary Session held in Luanda, Angola, from 28 April to 12 May 2014:

Recalling that Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) prohibits discrimination of the individual on the basis of distinctions of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or any status;

 
 
Commemoration of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia and launch of the photographic exhibition: In Whom Can I Still Trust?

On the occasion of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), on Saturday 17 May 2014, the Centre for Human Rights is pleased to host the photographic exhibition In Whom Can I Still Trust?. The exhibition aims to highlight the progress made, and challenges faced, in ensuring the protection of sexual minorities in South Africa.

The exhibition was officially opened a on Friday 16 May in a ceremony in the Faculty of Law, at the University of Pretoria. The opening included a message from the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, delivered by Ms Janine Cohen; a speech by Mr Richard Freedman, Director of the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation; and a welcome message from Prof Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights. An inspiring and uplifting keynote address was delievered the famous South African human rights activist and social commentator Sisonke Msimang.


The exhibition includes archive photographs, personal testimonies and video clips detailing the largely untold history of homosexual oppression in Nazi Germany. It relates the historical narrative to the prejudices that still exist today through additional panels prepared by the Gay and Lesbian Archives (GALA) and the screening of the South African version of the global “It Gets Better” advocacy campaign.

 
 
Leading scholar expresses concern about the forced migration and human trafficking of Eritreans

Prof Dan Connell, a visiting scholar from Boston University’s African Studies Centre and senior lecturer in journalism and African Politics at Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, has raised concern about the forced migration and human trafficking situation in Eritrea. He highlighted the grave situation in Eritrea during an open lecture titled ‘Eritreans at risk: Refugees, migrants or migrating refugees?’ hosted by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria as part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness on the human rights situation in Eritrea. The lecture was aimed at situating the refugee and migrant problem in Eritrea in the global discourse on causes, consequences and responses to forced migration and human trafficking.

Prof. Connell has written seven books and numerous articles on the human rights situation in Eritrea since 1976.

Eritrea has been under a harsh dictatorship since 2001. The 1997 Constitution has not yet come into force and this means that most of the rights and freedoms are restricted. Many Eritreans therefore cross the border in search of a better life abroad. Unfortunately, many fall victim to human traffickers, who exploit and torture them for ransoms from family members. According to Connell, ‘human trafficking has become a contagious disease, so lucrative, it attracts many new copycats and there is now a huge network of trafficking through the Sahel region.’

 
 
Human rights students add their voices to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign

On the night of 14 April 2014, more than 200 female students were kidnapped from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria.

The kidnappings were claimed by Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist and Takfiri terrorist organisation based in northeast Nigeria.

Social media has played a pivotal role in forcing the issue onto the agenda of our world leaders. Hundreds of thousands of people have posted images of themselves holding pieces of paper with the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag written on it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The 2014 LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) class has added their voice to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign by producing a Pan-African video in support of the girls, their parents, families and the Nigerian people.

 
 
Centre calls on the African Commission to adopt resolution condemning violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
Statement by the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,
at its 55th ordinary session, Luanda, Angola, 29 April 2014, on the situation of human rights in Africa

UPDATE:

African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights adopts first resolution ever on sexual orientation as it condemns violence against persons on basis of sexual orientation.

Eritrea

The Centre for Human Rights asks the African Commission to renew its preoccupation with the persistently alarming human rights situation in Eritrea. Despite the Commission’s repeated findings that the incommunicado detention by Eritrea of senior government officials and journalists, since 2001, has violated the African Charter, these detentions continue to today.  Despite numerous resolutions deploring Eritrea’s non-compliance with the Commission’s recommendations to release these detainees, or, at the very least, allow them access to their families and lawyers, these detentions persist.

We therefore urge the Commission, in its next activity report, to explicitly highlight Eritrea’s persistent non-compliance and to call on the AU Assembly to suspend Eritrea’s membership of the AU, due to its flagrant violation of the basic tenets of the organization, or, at the very least, to impose sanctions against it under article 23 of the AU Constitutive Act.

 
 
Invitation to a Public Lecture: ‘Eritreans at Risk: Refugees, migrants or migrating refugees?’

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites you to a public lecture ‘Eritreans at Risk: Refugees, migrants or migrating refugees?’

Thousands of Eritreans have fled a repressive dictatorship since 2001, making their small northeast African nation (population 4-5 million) one of the largest per capita producers of asylum seekers in the world. Many languish in desert camps. Others have been kidnapped, tortured and ransomed—or killed—in the Sinai; left to die in the Sahara; or drowned in the Mediterranean. Still others have been attacked as foreigners in South Africa, threatened with mass detention in Israel, or refused entry under draconian “terrorism bars” in North America. This lecture draws on interviews in refugee camps and communities in Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt (Sinai) and Israel to put a human face on this ongoing crisis, sketch out its main corridors, and situate it within the global debates on causes, consequences and responses to forced migration and human trafficking.

 
 
Summary of the proceedings concerning the talibés case

In 2012 the Centre for Human Rights submitted a communication to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Committee) which was co-authored with la Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), a NGO based in Dakar, Senegal. 

On 18 April 2013, the Committee declared the Communication admissible and it was heard on its merits on 14 April 2014 where both the representatives of the Applicant and the Respondent were present.

 
 
Invitation: Opening of exhibition exploring the Nazi persecution of sexual minorities in Europe

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in association with the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre invites you to the opening of the exhibition ‘In Whom Can I Still Trust?’

To commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on 17 May, the Centre for Human Rights and the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre invites you to the opening of the renowned exhibition, ‘In Whom Can I Still Trust?’, which explores the Nazi persecution of sexual minorities in Europe.

The keynote address will be delivered by Sisonke Msimang, human rights activist and social commentator.

 
 
Call for Abstracts: Overcoming Obstacles - Towards the effective implementation of the rights of women with disabilities in Africa

The Centre for Human Rights invites abstracts for a conference on disability rights with a focus on the effective implementation of the rights of women with disabilities in Africa. The conference will be held at the Centre for Human Rights on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 November 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference will also coincide with launch of the second issue of the African Disability Rights Yearbook, the first issue having been launched in 2013. It is anticipated that papers presented at this conference will be reworked by the authors and submitted for consideration for publication in the 2015 issue of African Disability Rights Yearbook.

 
 
Invitation to a book launch: Symbols or Substance? Socio-­Economic Rights in South Africa

 The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites you to the book launch of Socio­‐Economic Rights in South: Symbols or Substance? The publication is edited by Malcolm Langford, Ben Cousins, Jackie Dugard and Tshepo Madlingozi.

Former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa,  Zak Jacoob will be the guest speaker at the book launch. The book launch forms part of the Judicial Enforcement of Socieo-Economic Rights in South Africa course, presented by the Advanced Human Rights Courses at the Centre for Human Rights.

 
 
SOAWR strongly condemns discriminatory Kenyan legislation

The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR), an initiative of 43 organizations working across 23 countries in Africa to promote and protect women’s rights in Africa, strongly condemns discriminatory provisions of Kenya’s 2013 Matrimonial Property Act and the Marriage Bill (pending presidential assent).

The Matrimonial Property Act, which was duly gazetted into law on 10th January 2014, is discriminatory and a retrogressive step for women's rights to land and property in Kenya. The Act, in brief, defines matrimonial property as only property that is jointly owned by the spouse, and disallows women the right to marital property upon the death or divorce of their spouse by requiring them to prove their contribution to the acquisition of the property during the marriage.

 
 
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe gives public lecture on the ICC

South Africa’s Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, delivered a public lecture at the Centre for Human Rights. The event was organised by the Centre for Human Rights to mark 15 years of the Master’s degree programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa. The programme is presented by the Centre for Human Rights and 13 other African universities. At the ceremony, the Centre for Human Rights also remembered an alumnus of the programme Mr Julius Osega who passed away in 2006 while on a peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan. More than 200 guests attended the public lecture. 

 
 
Human Rights Day – an opportunity for reflection and concern

Human Rights Day is an opportunity for stock-taking and an occasion for celebration.  In the run-up to the 2014 parliamentary elections, we should not lose sight of the very fact that all South Africans are now able to vote in a legitimate process under circumstances that are largely free of violence and intimidation. The Public Protector’s recent report on Nkandla also serves as a reminder that our democracy has brought into being strong institutions, which support the transformation of our society from one based on unquestionable adherence to executive and legislative authority to one based on a culture of justification.

 
 
Regional experts meeting on child marriage in Africa 5 - 6 March, 2014

The Centre for Human Rights hosted a meeting of experts on child marriage in Africa on the 5th and 6th of March 2014. This meeting forms part of the child marriage project which seeks to investigate the prevalence of this phenomenon in African countries, and to give recommendations on best practices that can be employed to curb it. This project supports the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA) especially to follow up on the implementation of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa by state parties, notably by preparing reports on the situation of women’s rights in Africa and propose recommendations to be adopted by the Commission. The Special Rapporteur is further mandated to carry out comparative studies on the situation of the rights of women in various countries of Africa. 

 
 
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