On 2 August 2017, the Centre for Human Rights signed a technical cooperation agreement with African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), establishing a framework for concrete collaboration on a number of activities. AMSHeR is a Pan-African coalition of organisations focusing on men who have sex with men (MSM) and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT). AMSHeR works towards the promotion of non-discrimination, particularly based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the advancement of health services for MSM/LGBT persons in Africa. The signing ceremony was attended by AMSHeR’s Executive Director Kene Esom and law and human rights advocacy manager, Berry Didier Nibogora. The Centre was represented by its Director, Professor Frans Viljoen and Assistant Director Norman Taku.

On 6 July 2017, the Centre for Human Rights hosted 5 beneficiaries and graduates (Jafta Bonginkosi, Shadrack Munyai, Xolilie Myeni, Miranda Mbonambi and Lisebo Kotelo) of the JB Marks Educational Trust Fund at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

The JB Marks Education Trust Fund was established by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in 1997 to address the need to empower NUM members and their children or dependents particularly those graduates entering the mining and construction sector. The vision and mission of the trust focuses on funding the beneficiaries of NUM members but the scope and reach of the Trust has evolved and grown with changing times over the past 20 years.

Participating and contributing to the fourth Bergen Exchanges, in Bergen, Norway, staff and graduates of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, further strengthened the Centre’s focus on and international collaboration in respect of sexual and reproductive rights (SRR). 
 
Four Centre graduates (two currently registered doctoral students), together with two staff members, Prof Frans Viljoen (Director, Centre for Human Rights) and Ms Thuto Hlalele  (Administrative Coordinator, LLM/MPhil Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa programme), are participating in the week-long public discourse at the Bergen Exchanges. The discourse, which is hosted by the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, University of Bergen from 19 to 25 August 2017, is centered towards examining lawfare. The term ‘lawfare’ denotes the strategic uses of rights and law and how legal institutions function as arenas for political contestation. 

The University of Pretoria is currently in the unique position where three law professors from the faculty of law serve as international experts on key UN bodies in Geneva, responsible for the development and application of international law.

According to the dean of the faculty of law, Professor Andre Boraine, such a concentration of international experts in one university is exceptional by any standard.

“Some – not even all – countries count themselves lucky if they have one person in these key UN positions: here we have three experts not only from one country but also from one university,” he said.

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The Centre for Human Rights held a capacity building workshop for members of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) on 5 August 2017. The workshop, which was held at the seat of PAP in Midrand, South Africa, was themed ‘Digital Rights, Democracy and Governance in Africa: The Role of National and Regional Parliaments. The Centre for Human Rights facilitated this workshop in collaboration with its partners- Applied Law and Technology (ALT) Africa, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Google.

The Centre for Human Rights made a presentation before members of the Pan African Parliament Permanent Committte on Justice and Human Rights on the continued plight of persons with albinism on the continent and the need for regional action on 9 August 2017. The presentation is part of the Centre for Human Rights’ on-going efforts to advance the rights of persons with albinism in Africa which began in 2016. The presentation, which took place at the Pan African Parliament headquarters in Midrand, South Africa during the Justice and Human Rights Committee session sought to bring to the attention of the Committee members the continued persistent and egregious violations of the rights of persons with albinism. More importantly the need for African states to adopt the recently finalised Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa, a 5-year plan to address attacks and related violations against persons with albinism in Sub Saharan Africa.

The SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) hosted the I Decide=I Am travelling art exhibition from the 17th to the 27th of July 2017 at its Randburg offices in Gauteng. The globally acclaimed exhibition by Bulgarian illustrator Nadezhda Georgieva and human rights activist Yana Buhrer tells the personal stories and reflections of sixteen people denied of their legal capacity because of their psychosocial or intellectual disability. The exhibition also includes three pieces by South African artist Daniel Mosako, based on his interpretation of the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which almost 100 persons with mental disabilities lost their lives.  

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria coordinated a state report drafting workshop in collaboration with Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs, Lesotho from 31 July to 4 August 2017. The workshop brought together officials from different Government departments and civil society organisations pivotal to the drafting of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (African Charter) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
 
The Kingdom of Lesotho ratified the African Charter in 1991 and the Maputo Protocol in 2004. However, it has only submitted one report to the African Commission under the African Charter in 2000 which covered the period from 1991 to 2000 and has not complied with its reporting obligations ever since. Lesotho has similarly not submitted any report under the Maputo Protocol according to article 62 of the African Charter and article 26 (1) of the Maputo Protocol. 

Every year on 9 August, South Africa celebrates National Women’s Day in recognition of the role that women played in the liberation of the country from Apartheid. On 9 August 1956, over 20,000 women marched onto the Union Buildings in Pretoria protesting the Pass-Laws that restricted the movement of women of color in white areas to certain times of the day. The demonstration was a resounding success and is nationally recognised as one of the political milestones that marked the events that challenged the apartheid government to eventually usher in democracy in 1994. While National Women’s Day celebrates the courage of those women back in the day, it has also evolved into a day to promote women’s rights within the community and to call out government to act on unfulfilled promises to women in the country regarding rights such as freedom from violence perpetrated against women and girls.

The following vacancies are available:

Terms of Reference

Project Title: State Parties' Compliance with the Concluding Observations and Recommendations issued by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) on the Rights Enshrined in the Maputo Protocol
Organisation: The Centre for Human Right (CHR)
Job Title: Researcher
Duty Station: South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria (One position available per country)
Duration: Varied (Research paper based)
Contract Type: Individual consultant
Closing date: 31 July, 2017

The Centre for Human Rights calls for the immediate release of the 42 persons who were unjustly arrested by law enforcement agents at the HIV awareness training for sexual and gender minorities which was held at the Vincent Hotel, Weigh Bridge in Owode Onirin, Lagos State, Nigeria on Saturday 29 July 2017.

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On Thursday 27 July 2017, Queer Africa 2: New stories made its grand entry into the University of Pretoria(UP) community at its well-attended book launch organised by the Queer Space Collective (QSC) at the Library Auditorium, University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus. This was preceding earlier launches at the University of Witwatersrand, Cape Town and Oslo.

The force behind bringing Queer Africa 2: New stories home to UP, was the QSC’s vision to make the UP safer and more inclusive of queer identity and expression through creative writing and expressions. The QSC is an informal group comprising of individuals mostly from ten organisations representative of both themselves and their organisations. These organisations include: Student for Law and Social Justice; Up and Out; English Department and Drama Department of the University of Pretoria; Church World Services; Right to Care; Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action(GALA); Centre for Sexuality Aids and Gender; and the Centre for Human Rights. These organisations among other things engage actively at the core of their work with the issues of queerness and sexual and gender minority issues. Interestingly, individual membership of the QSC cuts across persons of various ages, races, sexual orientation, gender identities, nationalities and backgrounds working together through interdependence amongst members and member organisations to storm UP, to charm the UP space with the saturating consciousness of the need for equality, safety and inclusivity. The launch of Queer Africa 2: new stories is the Queer Space Collective’s maiden event.

The Queer Space Collective (an informal group with the vision of making the University of Pretoria safer and more inclusive of queer identity and expression through creative writing) invites you to the University of Pretoria launch of Queer Africa 2: New Stories. Join us for readings, performances and a Q&A session.

Queer Africa 2: New Stories is a ground breaking collection featuring twenty-six masterpieces from eight countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, and the United States of America. The plots of all twenty-six stories are separately and skilfully woven to reflect a vast range of human emotions and experiences that abound in the lives of Africans of all shades and colour at home and abroad who own the queer identity.

Date: Thursday 27 July 2017
Time: 17:00 - 18:30
Venue: Merensky Library Auditorium, University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus
RSVP: PLACES LIMITED, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO RSVP ONLINE BEFORE MONDAY 24 JULY 2017
Contact: Mr David Ikpo  ( david.ikpo@up.ac.za) / Pierre Brouard ( pierre.brouard@up.ac.za)

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The Women's Rights Unit, the SOGIE Unit and the Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights is organising an advocacy event in commemoration of the National Women's day in South Africa. On the 9th of August 1956 more than 20 000 women of all races marched to the Union Buildings in Protest to amendments to the Pass Law and presented a petition against the idea of women carrying passes in urban areas.

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is currently hosting its third Advanced Human Rights Short Course on Children’s Rights in Africa. It started on Monday 31 July 2017 and runs to Friday 4 August 2017. The short course brings together 35 participants from 10 countries across Africa, with backgrounds that include national human rights institutions, academia, civil society, legal practitioners, prosecutors, teachers, medical professionals and government.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, hosted its second short course on business and human rights at the University of Pretoria from 10 - 14 July 2017. The event was made possible with support from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for Southern Africa. The short course brought together more than 55 participants, from 18 countries across Africa, with backgrounds that include national human rights institutions, academia, civil society, legal practitioners and government.

Although the right to form civil society organisations and peaceful assembly and association are recognised by international legal instruments; civil society groups and activists continue to face threats and fall victim to oppression every day. The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria hosted a three day intensive short course on Civil Society Law in Africa from 3-5 July 2017. The course brought together several participants from across Africa, mainly representing civil society groups, policy makers, government officials, national human rights institutions and academia. 

Experts who lectured and participated in the course are: Professor Michelo Hansungule, Professor of Law, University of Pretoria; Emerson Sykes, Legal Advisor, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL); Ricardo Wyngaard, Ricardo Wyngaard Attorneys; Irene Petras, Legal Advisor-Africa (ICNL); Corlett Letlojane, Executive Director, Human Rights Institute of South Africa; Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director, Southern Africa Litigation Centre; Kathleen Hardy, Senior Legal Officer, South African Human Rights Commission; and John Groarke, Mission Director, USAID/ South Africa.
 

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, through its Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Unit, applauds last week’s judgment by the High Court of South Africa Gauteng Local Division in Johannesburg, sitting as an equality court, in the matter of the South African Human Rights Commission v Jon Qwelane. The Court found that Qwelane’s derogatory comments about gays, published in 2008, constituted hate speech, and ordered him, within 30 days, to apologise unconditionally to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is currently presenting its Advanced Human Rights Course on The Right to Development in Africa, from 21 to 25 August 2017. The course is aimed at responding to the eternal question: ‘is development a human right’? What does it mean in the African context?

As part of the short course, the Centre hosted the Flemish Delegation to Southern Africa. The delegation was led by the Flemish Minister-President Hon Geert Bourgeois and Dr Geraldine Reymenants, General Representative of the Government of Flanders. Also present were representatives from the University of Pretoria: Prof Tiniyiko Maluleke (Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria), Prof Andre Boraine (Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria) and Mr Norman Taku (Assistant Director, Centre for Human Rights).

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pdfDownload the lecture by Hon Minister-President Geert Bourgeois

 The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, takes note of media reports and images circulating on social media, suggesting that the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, has been involved in a case of assaulting a woman in a public place (restaurant) over the weekend.

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The 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition concluded with the final round on 21 July 2017 at the Palais des Nations in geneva, Switzerland.

  • The winning team of the 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the team that argued the case for the Applicant / Respondent, with 79.5%
    The winning team from St Thomas University, Canada was represented by Abbie LeBlanc and Navy Vezina.
     
  • The runner-up team of the 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the team that argued the case for the Applicant / Respondent, with 77.67 %.
    The runner-up team from University of buenos Aires, Argenitina was represented by Carolina Lisandro Elias and Tomas Maria Ainchill.

The 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is currently underway at the Palais des Nations, United Nations Geneva headquarters. After the submission of written memorials, 36 teams from 23 countries coming from the 5 United Nations regions progressed to the pre-final rounds that are held annually in the human rights capital of the world.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is among four other universities across the world working with Amnesty International on its cutting-edge volunteer project Digital Verification Corps (DVC). Coordinated by Sam Dubberley, the DVC was created to equip students to subsequently support the work of Amnesty International’s researchers, who are often confronted with overwhelming volumes of unverified social media content in connection with some form of human rights abuse.  

3 December 2016 marked the 24th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Currently, around one billion people live with a disability, making up 15% of the world’s total population.

The Open Society Foundation (OSF) supports the implementation of Disability Rights education in selected law faculties in Africa. In pursuance of this vision, the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria in collaboration with the Disability Unit, embarked upon a support visit to the University of Zambia (UNZA) in efforts to advance inclusive policies and practices.

The Vera Chirwa Human Rights award recognises the outstanding professional achievements of a graduate of the HRDA Masters programme, and one who epitomises the true African human rights lawyer. They would have made a significant contribution to human rights promotion and protection in Africa; they would have demonstrated a courageous and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people in Africa; and their achievements will bear the hallmarks of dynamism, originality, and a pioneering spirit.

On the eve of International Human Rights Day, the Centre for Human Rights held its annual graduation ceremony. This year’s event, which took place on 9 December 2016, was very special for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that the first graduates of the first fully-fledged hybrid Master’s programme presented by the Centre received their degrees at this Ceremony.  This Master’s programme, focusing on “Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa”, brings together students from all across the continent in a combination of on-line and on-campus teaching and learning.

In a recent Colloquium of graduates of the Centre for Human Rights, participants agreed that the greatest challenges for human rights in Africa lie in the effective implementation of rights, and the independent functioning of institutions. This event, which took place on 8 December 2016, brought together some hundred current Centre Master’s students and graduates of its various programmes under the theme “How far have we come; where do we go from here?”

The African Disability Rights Yearbook (ADRY) is calling for papers for consideration for publication in 2017.

pdfDownload the 2017 ADRY Call for Papers

The ADRY publishes once a year with a focus on disability rights issues and developments of contemporary concern to persons with disabilities on the African continent. It comprises three sections – Section A containing doctrinal articles and for which we are calling for papers; Section B containing country-focused overviews of developments in disability rights in selected African countries; and Section C containing brief overviews of developments at the
African regional and sub-regional levels.

As we recently observed the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we have reason to see the glass as half-full. In the past ten years, there has been a discernible shift towards raising the profile of disability in our human rights systems. The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 was a pivotal event at the global level. Conceptually, the CRPD is paradigm-setting; it constitutes a shift not just from a charity model of disability to a rights-based social model, but also in the way we look at disability.

During 2016, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is celebrating its 30th anniversary, coinciding with the entry into force of the most important human rights treaty on the continent, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. This year is also the African Union’s Year of Human Rights (with a focus on women’s rights) as well as the 20th anniversary of the South African Constitution.

Over the past 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.

During 2016, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, is celebrating its 30th anniversary, coinciding with the entry into force of one of the most important human rights treaties on the continent, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

This year is also the African Union’s Year of Human Rights (with a focus on women’s rights) as well as the 20th anniversary of the South African Constitution.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria recently established a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Unit.

Have you or someone you know suffered discrimination, hate speech or harassment? We will help you for FREE!

We offer legal advice, facilitate mediation and may represent you in the Equality Court.

pdfDownload the SOGIE flyer

Reflections on a visit to Chancellor College, University of Malawi as part of the Disability Rights Law Schools Project

When we turned off the main tarmac road into the villages, we were faced with a rocky dirt road. For a while it seemed like our car was no match for the rugged terrain with the wheels churning a huge spray of dust and the engine struggling and coughing violently as we chugged along. Shortly thereafter, we crossed a narrow bridge and with a spirited lurch we were on our way. The bumpy and long drive through scattered mud huts, grazing goats and waving children brought us to our destination, Ntungulutsi Primary School in Chingale. We were greeted by the sight of school children singing and dancing, their laughter filling the air as their parents chatted away.

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Unit (SOGIE) of the Centre for Human Rights conducted a ‘Sexual minority rights in Africa training and dialogue’ from 23 Nov to 25 Nov 2016 at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Pretoria.

The aim of the training and dialogue was to train and dialogue with government department officials, the police, national human rights institutions, human rights NGO workers, and LGBTI activists on the human rights of sexual minorities (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons, and intersex persons) in Africa, basing on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The change expected is that relevant government departments and NGOs will put more effort in enabling the rights of sexual minorities through the right policies, domestic laws, action and advocacy plans.

The past ten years have ushered in a new sense of urgency in efforts to change the quality of life of persons with disabilities in Africa. The African Union and its agencies have made various efforts towards ensuring the rights of persons with disability including through developing an Africa-specific protocol for persons with disabilities.

The Department of Social Affairs of the African Union hosted a validation workshop on the Draft Protocol to the African Charter on the Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa from the 29 – 30 November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

South Africa is a country that is so diverse and heterogeneous that the term rainbow nation was coined by the late President Nelson Mandela to describe it's characteristics under the new democratic dispensation. The term however does not only apply to the different races that inhabit this great land, but also extends to the diverse cultures, nationalities, religious and political affiliations, sexual orientations and gender identities, and expressions of South Africans and their other non-South African fellow inhabitants.

Gender inequalities are at the heart of rape culture in South Africa and without conscious, sustained and deliberate efforts to dismantle them, the problem will prevail. Gender equality should be understood in a much broader frame than just the equal treatment of all human beings regardless of gender, extending to include the need for creating an enabling social and institutional environment for all women and all men to be able to access equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Inequalities are not just expressed in our beliefs, attitudes and actions, but are entrenched within social structures and institutions to maintain and reinforce the superiority of one gender over another.

Violence and discrimination against persons with albinism as well as trafficking and cross-boarder sale of their body parts continues to be a worrying trend on the continent.TheIndependent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero in her report to the Human Rights Council earlier this year reported that over 500 cases of violence against persons with albinism including murder and mutilation have been reported in 26 African countries, since 2006. It is believed that a majority of cases go unreported due to the secrecy of witchcraft and other harmful practices which serve as the context of most of these attacks. 

The Centre for Human Rights, in partnership with Open Society Foundations and the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, held a high-level meeting on 8 November 2016. This meeting formed part of a number of events that focused on advancing the rights of persons with albinism in Africa. 

The meeting was convened by the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, who was grateful to all stakeholders for making the forum a reality at such short notice. The meeting brought together high-level stakeholders from the United Nations, the African Union, government, diplomats, civil society including academia and leaders of organisations representing persons with albinism.

From 7 to 10 November 2016 the Centre for Human Rights, with the support of Open Society Foundations, hosted the Fourth African Disability Rights Moot Court Competition. Participants from the Network of Law Schools Disability Rights Programme participated in the fourth edition of this competition.

The problem that was argued during the rounds concerned itself with issues regarding the rights of persons living with albinism.

On 18 November 2005, the Southern African Development Community Tribunal (SADC Tribunal) was inaugurated. It was established to hear disputes of not only Southern African states but also of their citizens. This was a momentous occasion given that 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, instead of this week celebrating the 11th anniversary of this progressive mechanism, we mourn its demise.

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pdfDownload the Media Advisory
pdfDownload the 'Week of Mourning' flyer

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and Equality Now, in collaboration with the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition developed a tool on harmful practices: Litigation and Advocacy Tool: Litigating cases of harmful practices with a focus on female genital mutilation and child marriages.

The tool is also available in French: Manuel relatif aux droits de la défense dans le cadre d'un contentieux: Guider les litiges et plaidoiries qui se focalisent sur mettre fin aux pratiques nocives en Afrique, l’accent étant mis sur la mutilation génitale féminine et le mariage d’enfants.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to the Graduation Ceremony for the 2016 Master’s degree students.

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Date: Friday 9 December 2016
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Venue: Musaion, University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus, Hillcrest, Pretoria

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to the 30/30 Colloquium: How far have we come; how far will we go?

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Date: Thursday 8 December 2016
Time: 08:00 – 16:00
Venue: Hellenic Community Hall, Corner Lynnwood road & Roper street (opposite UP), Hillcrest, Pretoria

(Pretoria, South Africa) An action plan to combat attacks and discrimination against people with albinism in Africa is a critical priority for governments and civil society on the continent, declared the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, following the High-Level Meeting on Persons with Albinism in Africa.

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GENEVA (28 October 2016) – States must heed the pleas of countless victims of crimes against humanity for justice and accountability, Sheila Keetharuth of the former UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea urged the UN General Assembly. The Commission has recommended that the situation in Eritrea be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Speaking for the Commission of Inquiry, Keetharuth, who is also UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, highlighted the Commission’s clear findings that crimes against humanity have been committed since 1991 by Eritrean officials, adding that such a dire assessment left no room for “business as usual” in the international community’s engagement with the Government of Eritrea.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is calling for applications for two Open Society Foundations scholarship programmes: the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme and the Inclusive Education Scholarship Programme.

About the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme

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).

The Centre for Human Rights expresses its grave disappointment at the news of the entry of an instrument of withdrawal from the Statute of the International Criminal Court by the South African Minister of International Cooperation and Development.

It should be recalled that South Africa ratified the ICC Statute though a parliamentary process. It is our firm view that it is contrary to the spirit of our democratic Constitution for such a consultative, inclusive and democratically-based decision to be undone through a unilateral act by a single government department, acting for the executive. The South African Constitutional Court has emphasised that ours is a participatory democracy, not a democracy where the electorate cedes authority to the executive to govern without its continued involvement. Whenever it is possible, participation and inclusion should be chosen above executive fiat.

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Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir waves to supporters during a rally against the International Criminal Court after arriving from Ethiopia, at Khartoum Airport in Sudan, July 30, 2016. /REUTERS

South Africa is withdrawing from the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, signed the Instrument of Withdrawal on 19 October, following a cabinet decision.

It is a sad day for South Africa. It is a sad day for Africa. Why did it come to this?

The minister states that the reason for the withdrawal is that:

[South Africa] has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court.

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria deplores the decision of the South African government to withdraw from the International Criminal Court Statute.

This is a developing story and the Centre for Human Rights will release an official statement on the matter.

Monday 17 October was the first working day for Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, our new Public Protector. President Zuma formally appointed her to the position; she is set to serve her seven-year term. (This is the second Public Protector President Zuma has appointed; he also appointed Thuli Madonsela in 2009.) Parliament overwhelmingly supported her; and civil society organisations such as Corruption Watch endorsed her

If some concerned South Africans still view Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s appointment with some apprehension, it would be up to her to set suspicious minds at ease. Her actions would confound her critics. Regrettably, there indeed seems to be some cause for caution.

As part of the African Union (AU) Year of Human Rights, the Centre for Human Rights (Faculty of law, University of Pretoria) compiled a publication tracking the historical evolution and providing an overview of the African human rights system.

This publication, A guide to the African human rights system Celebrating 30 years since the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights 1986 - 2016, was launched during the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, which took place in Pretoria from 3 to 8 October 2016. This year the Moot celebrated its silver jubilee, as the Centre has been hosting it for the last 25 years – without interruption. Fifty nine universities from all over Africa participated in the 2016 edition of the Moot. The Moot Court Competition has indeed been integral to much of the Centre’s 30 years of existence, another landmark acknowledged this year.

On 28 September 2016, the Peace and Justice Initiative and the Centre for Human Rights (“PJI/CHR”), represented by the Legal Resources Centre (“LRC”), were jointly admitted as amici curiae (friends of the court) in the matter of the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (CCT 75/16) (“Al-Bashir Case”) before the Constitutional Court of South Africa (“Court”). Yesterday, on 13 October 2016, PJI/CHR filed joint heads of argument in this matter, which can be accessed here, with the aim of utilising PJI/CHR’s collective domestic and international law experience to assist the Court in reaching its decision.

pdf Download this press release

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a conference on advancing the rights of persons with albinism in Africa which will be presented from 9 to 10 November 2016.

pdf Download this invitation
pdf Download the final conference programme

The final round of the 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition was held at the Constitutional Court of South Africa on Saturday 8 October 2016. The finalist teams consisted of the top Francophone, top Lusophone and two top Anglophone teams who emerged from the preliminary rounds that were held on 3 and 4 October. Appearing for the Applicant team were Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Institute Universitaire d’Abijan, Côte d'Ivoire and arguing for the Respondent team were Makere University, Uganda and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique.

To commemorate 30 years since the entry into force of the African Charter, 10 years since the African Court became operational and 30 years of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; a special conference was held on Friday 7 October 2016 as part of the African Human Rights Moot Court competition.

The conference coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Moot Competition organised by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in partnership with the University of The Gambia. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘The African Human Rights System @ 30: Taking stock, moving forward’. 

pdfDownload the conference programme

Day 4 of the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is usually set aside for an excursion to a prominent tourist destination in the host country. This year, the participants were taken to the ‘Sun City Resort’ in the North West Province in South Africa to spend the day at the ‘Valley of the Waves’. After breakfast at Holiday Inn Express, participants, faculty representatives, volunteers and organisers filled the buses and headed on a two-hour drive to Sun City.

Today’s event marked the second and final day of the preliminary rounds (Rounds III and IV). Participants were seen once again in their respective court rooms with the judges moderating the proceedings. Each team continued to argue their case for the Applicant and Respondent before different panels of judges. 

After completing all the rounds, the final score sheets were collated and the results for all teams verified by Mr Edouard Jacot Guillarmod, an independent auditor.

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.

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.

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.

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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.”

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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 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.

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.

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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.

Back Row (From Left) Mr Ericino de Salema (Programme Director-AICE/IBIS, Mozambique), Mr Maxwell Kadiri ( Legal Officer-Open Society Justice Initiatives, Nigeria), Ms Wilhemina Mensah (Africa Regional Coordinator-CHRI, Ghana), Mr Gram Matenga (Senior Programme Officer-International IDEA, Ethiopia), Mr Jeggan Grey-Johnson (Advocacy and Communications Officer-AFRO-OSF, South Africa)

Front Row (From Left) Mr Abiy Ashenafi (Researcher-Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria), Ms Pansy Tlakula (Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa-ACHPR), Ms Olufunto Akinduro ( Head of Elections-EISA, South Africa), Ms Hanifa Gutu (Programme Assistant/Researcher: FOE & ATI- Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria),  Ms Eva Heza (Secretariat- ACHPR, Gambia).

 

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 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 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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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).

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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).

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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.

pdf Download this Call for Abstracts in PDF (English)
pdf Download this Call for Abstracts in PDF (Français)
pdf Download this Call for Abstracts in PDF (Português)

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.

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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.

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.

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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. 

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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

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.

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.

In a statement released on 12 May 2016, the Centre for Human Rights explained why we agreed, after extensive consultations with our partners, to co-host the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Banjul, The Gambia, despite issues we had raised in an earlier statement on 20 April 2016, condemning human rights violations in The Gambia and calling for the relocation of the AU’s African Year of Human Rights celebrations away from Banjul.

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pdf Téléchargez ce communiqué de presse (Français)
pdf Faça o download deste Declaracao a Imprensa (Português)

Prof Christof Heyns, former Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Professor of human rights law at the University of Pretoria, was nominated in March 2016 by the South African Government as its candidate to the prestigious 18 member United Nations Human Rights Committee, and was elected as a member in New York on 23 June 2016.

The brochure prepared by the South African Government, as well as endorsements of his candidature by various luminaries in the field, are listed below.

pdf Download the brochure for Prof Christof Heyns
pdf Download the endorsements for Prof Christof Heyns

In view of assisting and strengthening the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA), on the 8 and 9 June 2016, the Gender Unit of the Centre for Human Rights organised and convened a workshop in Cote d'Ivoire on state reporting under the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Women’s Protocol). The workshop was held on the 8 and 9 June 2016.

On 17 May 2016 the Seychelles parliament passed a landmark bill to amend the country’s Penal Code to decriminalise sodomy. This was fittingly done on the day of the commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi-phobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT or IDAHOBiT).

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The Integrated Bar Project (IBP) was established in the late 1980's with the objective of exposing senior black South African law students to the legal practice of especially commercial law in the country's larger law firms. Since then approximately 1385 students from all law faculties in South Africa have undertaken 3-week internships during the July university holidays. Almost all the top law firms in the country participated and additional specialised phases were added.

The Integrated Bar Project (IBP) aimed to place 100-150 senior black law students from all South Africa's Universities on July holiday internships with South Africa's top law firms. Twenty of these students advanced to specialised internships with the High Courts, the Constitutional Court and the largest commercial banks in South Africa.

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The IBP was an initiative resulting from a partnership between the

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On 2 August 2017, the Centre for Human Rights signed a technical cooperation agreement with African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), establishing a framework for concrete collaboration on a number of activities. AMSHeR is a Pan-African coalition of organisations focusing on men who have sex with men (MSM) and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT). AMSHeR works towards the promotion of non-discrimination, particularly based on sexual orientation and gender identity and the advancement of health services for MSM/LGBT persons in Africa. The signing ceremony was attended by AMSHeR’s Executive Director Kene Esom and law and human rights advocacy manager, Berry Didier Nibogora. The Centre was represented by its Director, Professor Frans Viljoen and Assistant Director Norman Taku.

On 6 July 2017, the Centre for Human Rights hosted 5 beneficiaries and graduates (Jafta Bonginkosi, Shadrack Munyai, Xolilie Myeni, Miranda Mbonambi and Lisebo Kotelo) of the JB Marks Educational Trust Fund at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria.

The JB Marks Education Trust Fund was established by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in 1997 to address the need to empower NUM members and their children or dependents particularly those graduates entering the mining and construction sector. The vision and mission of the trust focuses on funding the beneficiaries of NUM members but the scope and reach of the Trust has evolved and grown with changing times over the past 20 years.

Participating and contributing to the fourth Bergen Exchanges, in Bergen, Norway, staff and graduates of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, further strengthened the Centre’s focus on and international collaboration in respect of sexual and reproductive rights (SRR). 
 
Four Centre graduates (two currently registered doctoral students), together with two staff members, Prof Frans Viljoen (Director, Centre for Human Rights) and Ms Thuto Hlalele  (Administrative Coordinator, LLM/MPhil Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa programme), are participating in the week-long public discourse at the Bergen Exchanges. The discourse, which is hosted by the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, University of Bergen from 19 to 25 August 2017, is centered towards examining lawfare. The term ‘lawfare’ denotes the strategic uses of rights and law and how legal institutions function as arenas for political contestation. 

The University of Pretoria is currently in the unique position where three law professors from the faculty of law serve as international experts on key UN bodies in Geneva, responsible for the development and application of international law.

According to the dean of the faculty of law, Professor Andre Boraine, such a concentration of international experts in one university is exceptional by any standard.

“Some – not even all – countries count themselves lucky if they have one person in these key UN positions: here we have three experts not only from one country but also from one university,” he said.

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The Centre for Human Rights held a capacity building workshop for members of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) on 5 August 2017. The workshop, which was held at the seat of PAP in Midrand, South Africa, was themed ‘Digital Rights, Democracy and Governance in Africa: The Role of National and Regional Parliaments. The Centre for Human Rights facilitated this workshop in collaboration with its partners- Applied Law and Technology (ALT) Africa, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Google.

The Centre for Human Rights made a presentation before members of the Pan African Parliament Permanent Committte on Justice and Human Rights on the continued plight of persons with albinism on the continent and the need for regional action on 9 August 2017. The presentation is part of the Centre for Human Rights’ on-going efforts to advance the rights of persons with albinism in Africa which began in 2016. The presentation, which took place at the Pan African Parliament headquarters in Midrand, South Africa during the Justice and Human Rights Committee session sought to bring to the attention of the Committee members the continued persistent and egregious violations of the rights of persons with albinism. More importantly the need for African states to adopt the recently finalised Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa, a 5-year plan to address attacks and related violations against persons with albinism in Sub Saharan Africa.

The SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) hosted the I Decide=I Am travelling art exhibition from the 17th to the 27th of July 2017 at its Randburg offices in Gauteng. The globally acclaimed exhibition by Bulgarian illustrator Nadezhda Georgieva and human rights activist Yana Buhrer tells the personal stories and reflections of sixteen people denied of their legal capacity because of their psychosocial or intellectual disability. The exhibition also includes three pieces by South African artist Daniel Mosako, based on his interpretation of the Life Esidimeni tragedy in which almost 100 persons with mental disabilities lost their lives.  

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria coordinated a state report drafting workshop in collaboration with Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs, Lesotho from 31 July to 4 August 2017. The workshop brought together officials from different Government departments and civil society organisations pivotal to the drafting of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (African Charter) and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).
 
The Kingdom of Lesotho ratified the African Charter in 1991 and the Maputo Protocol in 2004. However, it has only submitted one report to the African Commission under the African Charter in 2000 which covered the period from 1991 to 2000 and has not complied with its reporting obligations ever since. Lesotho has similarly not submitted any report under the Maputo Protocol according to article 62 of the African Charter and article 26 (1) of the Maputo Protocol. 

Every year on 9 August, South Africa celebrates National Women’s Day in recognition of the role that women played in the liberation of the country from Apartheid. On 9 August 1956, over 20,000 women marched onto the Union Buildings in Pretoria protesting the Pass-Laws that restricted the movement of women of color in white areas to certain times of the day. The demonstration was a resounding success and is nationally recognised as one of the political milestones that marked the events that challenged the apartheid government to eventually usher in democracy in 1994. While National Women’s Day celebrates the courage of those women back in the day, it has also evolved into a day to promote women’s rights within the community and to call out government to act on unfulfilled promises to women in the country regarding rights such as freedom from violence perpetrated against women and girls.

The following vacancies are available:

Terms of Reference

Project Title: State Parties' Compliance with the Concluding Observations and Recommendations issued by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) on the Rights Enshrined in the Maputo Protocol
Organisation: The Centre for Human Right (CHR)
Job Title: Researcher
Duty Station: South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria (One position available per country)
Duration: Varied (Research paper based)
Contract Type: Individual consultant
Closing date: 31 July, 2017

The Centre for Human Rights calls for the immediate release of the 42 persons who were unjustly arrested by law enforcement agents at the HIV awareness training for sexual and gender minorities which was held at the Vincent Hotel, Weigh Bridge in Owode Onirin, Lagos State, Nigeria on Saturday 29 July 2017.

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On Thursday 27 July 2017, Queer Africa 2: New stories made its grand entry into the University of Pretoria(UP) community at its well-attended book launch organised by the Queer Space Collective (QSC) at the Library Auditorium, University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus. This was preceding earlier launches at the University of Witwatersrand, Cape Town and Oslo.

The force behind bringing Queer Africa 2: New stories home to UP, was the QSC’s vision to make the UP safer and more inclusive of queer identity and expression through creative writing and expressions. The QSC is an informal group comprising of individuals mostly from ten organisations representative of both themselves and their organisations. These organisations include: Student for Law and Social Justice; Up and Out; English Department and Drama Department of the University of Pretoria; Church World Services; Right to Care; Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action(GALA); Centre for Sexuality Aids and Gender; and the Centre for Human Rights. These organisations among other things engage actively at the core of their work with the issues of queerness and sexual and gender minority issues. Interestingly, individual membership of the QSC cuts across persons of various ages, races, sexual orientation, gender identities, nationalities and backgrounds working together through interdependence amongst members and member organisations to storm UP, to charm the UP space with the saturating consciousness of the need for equality, safety and inclusivity. The launch of Queer Africa 2: new stories is the Queer Space Collective’s maiden event.

The Queer Space Collective (an informal group with the vision of making the University of Pretoria safer and more inclusive of queer identity and expression through creative writing) invites you to the University of Pretoria launch of Queer Africa 2: New Stories. Join us for readings, performances and a Q&A session.

Queer Africa 2: New Stories is a ground breaking collection featuring twenty-six masterpieces from eight countries – Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, and the United States of America. The plots of all twenty-six stories are separately and skilfully woven to reflect a vast range of human emotions and experiences that abound in the lives of Africans of all shades and colour at home and abroad who own the queer identity.

Date: Thursday 27 July 2017
Time: 17:00 - 18:30
Venue: Merensky Library Auditorium, University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus
RSVP: PLACES LIMITED, PLEASE CLICK HERE TO RSVP ONLINE BEFORE MONDAY 24 JULY 2017
Contact: Mr David Ikpo  ( david.ikpo@up.ac.za) / Pierre Brouard ( pierre.brouard@up.ac.za)

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The Women's Rights Unit, the SOGIE Unit and the Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights is organising an advocacy event in commemoration of the National Women's day in South Africa. On the 9th of August 1956 more than 20 000 women of all races marched to the Union Buildings in Protest to amendments to the Pass Law and presented a petition against the idea of women carrying passes in urban areas.

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is currently hosting its third Advanced Human Rights Short Course on Children’s Rights in Africa. It started on Monday 31 July 2017 and runs to Friday 4 August 2017. The short course brings together 35 participants from 10 countries across Africa, with backgrounds that include national human rights institutions, academia, civil society, legal practitioners, prosecutors, teachers, medical professionals and government.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, hosted its second short course on business and human rights at the University of Pretoria from 10 - 14 July 2017. The event was made possible with support from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office for Southern Africa. The short course brought together more than 55 participants, from 18 countries across Africa, with backgrounds that include national human rights institutions, academia, civil society, legal practitioners and government.

Although the right to form civil society organisations and peaceful assembly and association are recognised by international legal instruments; civil society groups and activists continue to face threats and fall victim to oppression every day. The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria hosted a three day intensive short course on Civil Society Law in Africa from 3-5 July 2017. The course brought together several participants from across Africa, mainly representing civil society groups, policy makers, government officials, national human rights institutions and academia. 

Experts who lectured and participated in the course are: Professor Michelo Hansungule, Professor of Law, University of Pretoria; Emerson Sykes, Legal Advisor, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL); Ricardo Wyngaard, Ricardo Wyngaard Attorneys; Irene Petras, Legal Advisor-Africa (ICNL); Corlett Letlojane, Executive Director, Human Rights Institute of South Africa; Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Executive Director, Southern Africa Litigation Centre; Kathleen Hardy, Senior Legal Officer, South African Human Rights Commission; and John Groarke, Mission Director, USAID/ South Africa.
 

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, through its Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Unit, applauds last week’s judgment by the High Court of South Africa Gauteng Local Division in Johannesburg, sitting as an equality court, in the matter of the South African Human Rights Commission v Jon Qwelane. The Court found that Qwelane’s derogatory comments about gays, published in 2008, constituted hate speech, and ordered him, within 30 days, to apologise unconditionally to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is currently presenting its Advanced Human Rights Course on The Right to Development in Africa, from 21 to 25 August 2017. The course is aimed at responding to the eternal question: ‘is development a human right’? What does it mean in the African context?

As part of the short course, the Centre hosted the Flemish Delegation to Southern Africa. The delegation was led by the Flemish Minister-President Hon Geert Bourgeois and Dr Geraldine Reymenants, General Representative of the Government of Flanders. Also present were representatives from the University of Pretoria: Prof Tiniyiko Maluleke (Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria), Prof Andre Boraine (Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria) and Mr Norman Taku (Assistant Director, Centre for Human Rights).

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pdfDownload the lecture by Hon Minister-President Geert Bourgeois

 The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, takes note of media reports and images circulating on social media, suggesting that the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, has been involved in a case of assaulting a woman in a public place (restaurant) over the weekend.

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The 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition concluded with the final round on 21 July 2017 at the Palais des Nations in geneva, Switzerland.

  • The winning team of the 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the team that argued the case for the Applicant / Respondent, with 79.5%
    The winning team from St Thomas University, Canada was represented by Abbie LeBlanc and Navy Vezina.
     
  • The runner-up team of the 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the team that argued the case for the Applicant / Respondent, with 77.67 %.
    The runner-up team from University of buenos Aires, Argenitina was represented by Carolina Lisandro Elias and Tomas Maria Ainchill.

The 9th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is currently underway at the Palais des Nations, United Nations Geneva headquarters. After the submission of written memorials, 36 teams from 23 countries coming from the 5 United Nations regions progressed to the pre-final rounds that are held annually in the human rights capital of the world.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is among four other universities across the world working with Amnesty International on its cutting-edge volunteer project Digital Verification Corps (DVC). Coordinated by Sam Dubberley, the DVC was created to equip students to subsequently support the work of Amnesty International’s researchers, who are often confronted with overwhelming volumes of unverified social media content in connection with some form of human rights abuse.  

3 December 2016 marked the 24th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Currently, around one billion people live with a disability, making up 15% of the world’s total population.

The Open Society Foundation (OSF) supports the implementation of Disability Rights education in selected law faculties in Africa. In pursuance of this vision, the Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria in collaboration with the Disability Unit, embarked upon a support visit to the University of Zambia (UNZA) in efforts to advance inclusive policies and practices.

The Vera Chirwa Human Rights award recognises the outstanding professional achievements of a graduate of the HRDA Masters programme, and one who epitomises the true African human rights lawyer. They would have made a significant contribution to human rights promotion and protection in Africa; they would have demonstrated a courageous and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of people in Africa; and their achievements will bear the hallmarks of dynamism, originality, and a pioneering spirit.

On the eve of International Human Rights Day, the Centre for Human Rights held its annual graduation ceremony. This year’s event, which took place on 9 December 2016, was very special for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that the first graduates of the first fully-fledged hybrid Master’s programme presented by the Centre received their degrees at this Ceremony.  This Master’s programme, focusing on “Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa”, brings together students from all across the continent in a combination of on-line and on-campus teaching and learning.

In a recent Colloquium of graduates of the Centre for Human Rights, participants agreed that the greatest challenges for human rights in Africa lie in the effective implementation of rights, and the independent functioning of institutions. This event, which took place on 8 December 2016, brought together some hundred current Centre Master’s students and graduates of its various programmes under the theme “How far have we come; where do we go from here?”

The African Disability Rights Yearbook (ADRY) is calling for papers for consideration for publication in 2017.

pdfDownload the 2017 ADRY Call for Papers

The ADRY publishes once a year with a focus on disability rights issues and developments of contemporary concern to persons with disabilities on the African continent. It comprises three sections – Section A containing doctrinal articles and for which we are calling for papers; Section B containing country-focused overviews of developments in disability rights in selected African countries; and Section C containing brief overviews of developments at the
African regional and sub-regional levels.

As we recently observed the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we have reason to see the glass as half-full. In the past ten years, there has been a discernible shift towards raising the profile of disability in our human rights systems. The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006 was a pivotal event at the global level. Conceptually, the CRPD is paradigm-setting; it constitutes a shift not just from a charity model of disability to a rights-based social model, but also in the way we look at disability.

During 2016, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is celebrating its 30th anniversary, coinciding with the entry into force of the most important human rights treaty on the continent, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. This year is also the African Union’s Year of Human Rights (with a focus on women’s rights) as well as the 20th anniversary of the South African Constitution.

Over the past 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.

During 2016, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, is celebrating its 30th anniversary, coinciding with the entry into force of one of the most important human rights treaties on the continent, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

This year is also the African Union’s Year of Human Rights (with a focus on women’s rights) as well as the 20th anniversary of the South African Constitution.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria recently established a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Unit.

Have you or someone you know suffered discrimination, hate speech or harassment? We will help you for FREE!

We offer legal advice, facilitate mediation and may represent you in the Equality Court.

pdfDownload the SOGIE flyer

Reflections on a visit to Chancellor College, University of Malawi as part of the Disability Rights Law Schools Project

When we turned off the main tarmac road into the villages, we were faced with a rocky dirt road. For a while it seemed like our car was no match for the rugged terrain with the wheels churning a huge spray of dust and the engine struggling and coughing violently as we chugged along. Shortly thereafter, we crossed a narrow bridge and with a spirited lurch we were on our way. The bumpy and long drive through scattered mud huts, grazing goats and waving children brought us to our destination, Ntungulutsi Primary School in Chingale. We were greeted by the sight of school children singing and dancing, their laughter filling the air as their parents chatted away.

The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Unit (SOGIE) of the Centre for Human Rights conducted a ‘Sexual minority rights in Africa training and dialogue’ from 23 Nov to 25 Nov 2016 at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Pretoria.

The aim of the training and dialogue was to train and dialogue with government department officials, the police, national human rights institutions, human rights NGO workers, and LGBTI activists on the human rights of sexual minorities (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons, and intersex persons) in Africa, basing on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The change expected is that relevant government departments and NGOs will put more effort in enabling the rights of sexual minorities through the right policies, domestic laws, action and advocacy plans.

The past ten years have ushered in a new sense of urgency in efforts to change the quality of life of persons with disabilities in Africa. The African Union and its agencies have made various efforts towards ensuring the rights of persons with disability including through developing an Africa-specific protocol for persons with disabilities.

The Department of Social Affairs of the African Union hosted a validation workshop on the Draft Protocol to the African Charter on the Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Africa from the 29 – 30 November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

South Africa is a country that is so diverse and heterogeneous that the term rainbow nation was coined by the late President Nelson Mandela to describe it's characteristics under the new democratic dispensation. The term however does not only apply to the different races that inhabit this great land, but also extends to the diverse cultures, nationalities, religious and political affiliations, sexual orientations and gender identities, and expressions of South Africans and their other non-South African fellow inhabitants.

Gender inequalities are at the heart of rape culture in South Africa and without conscious, sustained and deliberate efforts to dismantle them, the problem will prevail. Gender equality should be understood in a much broader frame than just the equal treatment of all human beings regardless of gender, extending to include the need for creating an enabling social and institutional environment for all women and all men to be able to access equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. Inequalities are not just expressed in our beliefs, attitudes and actions, but are entrenched within social structures and institutions to maintain and reinforce the superiority of one gender over another.

Violence and discrimination against persons with albinism as well as trafficking and cross-boarder sale of their body parts continues to be a worrying trend on the continent.TheIndependent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism, Ms. Ikponwosa Ero in her report to the Human Rights Council earlier this year reported that over 500 cases of violence against persons with albinism including murder and mutilation have been reported in 26 African countries, since 2006. It is believed that a majority of cases go unreported due to the secrecy of witchcraft and other harmful practices which serve as the context of most of these attacks. 

The Centre for Human Rights, in partnership with Open Society Foundations and the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, held a high-level meeting on 8 November 2016. This meeting formed part of a number of events that focused on advancing the rights of persons with albinism in Africa. 

The meeting was convened by the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, who was grateful to all stakeholders for making the forum a reality at such short notice. The meeting brought together high-level stakeholders from the United Nations, the African Union, government, diplomats, civil society including academia and leaders of organisations representing persons with albinism.

From 7 to 10 November 2016 the Centre for Human Rights, with the support of Open Society Foundations, hosted the Fourth African Disability Rights Moot Court Competition. Participants from the Network of Law Schools Disability Rights Programme participated in the fourth edition of this competition.

The problem that was argued during the rounds concerned itself with issues regarding the rights of persons living with albinism.

On 18 November 2005, the Southern African Development Community Tribunal (SADC Tribunal) was inaugurated. It was established to hear disputes of not only Southern African states but also of their citizens. This was a momentous occasion given that 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, instead of this week celebrating the 11th anniversary of this progressive mechanism, we mourn its demise.

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pdfDownload the 'Week of Mourning' flyer

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and Equality Now, in collaboration with the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition developed a tool on harmful practices: Litigation and Advocacy Tool: Litigating cases of harmful practices with a focus on female genital mutilation and child marriages.

The tool is also available in French: Manuel relatif aux droits de la défense dans le cadre d'un contentieux: Guider les litiges et plaidoiries qui se focalisent sur mettre fin aux pratiques nocives en Afrique, l’accent étant mis sur la mutilation génitale féminine et le mariage d’enfants.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to the Graduation Ceremony for the 2016 Master’s degree students.

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Date: Friday 9 December 2016
Time: 14:00 – 17:00
Venue: Musaion, University of Pretoria, Hatfield Campus, Hillcrest, Pretoria

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to the 30/30 Colloquium: How far have we come; how far will we go?

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Date: Thursday 8 December 2016
Time: 08:00 – 16:00
Venue: Hellenic Community Hall, Corner Lynnwood road & Roper street (opposite UP), Hillcrest, Pretoria

(Pretoria, South Africa) An action plan to combat attacks and discrimination against people with albinism in Africa is a critical priority for governments and civil society on the continent, declared the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, following the High-Level Meeting on Persons with Albinism in Africa.

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GENEVA (28 October 2016) – States must heed the pleas of countless victims of crimes against humanity for justice and accountability, Sheila Keetharuth of the former UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea urged the UN General Assembly. The Commission has recommended that the situation in Eritrea be referred to the International Criminal Court.

Speaking for the Commission of Inquiry, Keetharuth, who is also UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, highlighted the Commission’s clear findings that crimes against humanity have been committed since 1991 by Eritrean officials, adding that such a dire assessment left no room for “business as usual” in the international community’s engagement with the Government of Eritrea.

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is calling for applications for two Open Society Foundations scholarship programmes: the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme and the Inclusive Education Scholarship Programme.

About the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme

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).

The Centre for Human Rights expresses its grave disappointment at the news of the entry of an instrument of withdrawal from the Statute of the International Criminal Court by the South African Minister of International Cooperation and Development.

It should be recalled that South Africa ratified the ICC Statute though a parliamentary process. It is our firm view that it is contrary to the spirit of our democratic Constitution for such a consultative, inclusive and democratically-based decision to be undone through a unilateral act by a single government department, acting for the executive. The South African Constitutional Court has emphasised that ours is a participatory democracy, not a democracy where the electorate cedes authority to the executive to govern without its continued involvement. Whenever it is possible, participation and inclusion should be chosen above executive fiat.

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Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir waves to supporters during a rally against the International Criminal Court after arriving from Ethiopia, at Khartoum Airport in Sudan, July 30, 2016. /REUTERS

South Africa is withdrawing from the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, signed the Instrument of Withdrawal on 19 October, following a cabinet decision.

It is a sad day for South Africa. It is a sad day for Africa. Why did it come to this?

The minister states that the reason for the withdrawal is that:

[South Africa] has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court.

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria deplores the decision of the South African government to withdraw from the International Criminal Court Statute.

This is a developing story and the Centre for Human Rights will release an official statement on the matter.

Monday 17 October was the first working day for Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, our new Public Protector. President Zuma formally appointed her to the position; she is set to serve her seven-year term. (This is the second Public Protector President Zuma has appointed; he also appointed Thuli Madonsela in 2009.) Parliament overwhelmingly supported her; and civil society organisations such as Corruption Watch endorsed her

If some concerned South Africans still view Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s appointment with some apprehension, it would be up to her to set suspicious minds at ease. Her actions would confound her critics. Regrettably, there indeed seems to be some cause for caution.

As part of the African Union (AU) Year of Human Rights, the Centre for Human Rights (Faculty of law, University of Pretoria) compiled a publication tracking the historical evolution and providing an overview of the African human rights system.

This publication, A guide to the African human rights system Celebrating 30 years since the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights 1986 - 2016, was launched during the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, which took place in Pretoria from 3 to 8 October 2016. This year the Moot celebrated its silver jubilee, as the Centre has been hosting it for the last 25 years – without interruption. Fifty nine universities from all over Africa participated in the 2016 edition of the Moot. The Moot Court Competition has indeed been integral to much of the Centre’s 30 years of existence, another landmark acknowledged this year.

On 28 September 2016, the Peace and Justice Initiative and the Centre for Human Rights (“PJI/CHR”), represented by the Legal Resources Centre (“LRC”), were jointly admitted as amici curiae (friends of the court) in the matter of the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (CCT 75/16) (“Al-Bashir Case”) before the Constitutional Court of South Africa (“Court”). Yesterday, on 13 October 2016, PJI/CHR filed joint heads of argument in this matter, which can be accessed here, with the aim of utilising PJI/CHR’s collective domestic and international law experience to assist the Court in reaching its decision.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a conference on advancing the rights of persons with albinism in Africa which will be presented from 9 to 10 November 2016.

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pdf Download the final conference programme

The final round of the 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition was held at the Constitutional Court of South Africa on Saturday 8 October 2016. The finalist teams consisted of the top Francophone, top Lusophone and two top Anglophone teams who emerged from the preliminary rounds that were held on 3 and 4 October. Appearing for the Applicant team were Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Institute Universitaire d’Abijan, Côte d'Ivoire and arguing for the Respondent team were Makere University, Uganda and the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique.

To commemorate 30 years since the entry into force of the African Charter, 10 years since the African Court became operational and 30 years of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; a special conference was held on Friday 7 October 2016 as part of the African Human Rights Moot Court competition.

The conference coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Moot Competition organised by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria in partnership with the University of The Gambia. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘The African Human Rights System @ 30: Taking stock, moving forward’. 

pdfDownload the conference programme

Day 4 of the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is usually set aside for an excursion to a prominent tourist destination in the host country. This year, the participants were taken to the ‘Sun City Resort’ in the North West Province in South Africa to spend the day at the ‘Valley of the Waves’. After breakfast at Holiday Inn Express, participants, faculty representatives, volunteers and organisers filled the buses and headed on a two-hour drive to Sun City.

Today’s event marked the second and final day of the preliminary rounds (Rounds III and IV). Participants were seen once again in their respective court rooms with the judges moderating the proceedings. Each team continued to argue their case for the Applicant and Respondent before different panels of judges. 

After completing all the rounds, the final score sheets were collated and the results for all teams verified by Mr Edouard Jacot Guillarmod, an independent auditor.

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.

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.

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.

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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.”

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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 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.

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.

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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.

Back Row (From Left) Mr Ericino de Salema (Programme Director-AICE/IBIS, Mozambique), Mr Maxwell Kadiri ( Legal Officer-Open Society Justice Initiatives, Nigeria), Ms Wilhemina Mensah (Africa Regional Coordinator-CHRI, Ghana), Mr Gram Matenga (Senior Programme Officer-International IDEA, Ethiopia), Mr Jeggan Grey-Johnson (Advocacy and Communications Officer-AFRO-OSF, South Africa)

Front Row (From Left) Mr Abiy Ashenafi (Researcher-Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria), Ms Pansy Tlakula (Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa-ACHPR), Ms Olufunto Akinduro ( Head of Elections-EISA, South Africa), Ms Hanifa Gutu (Programme Assistant/Researcher: FOE & ATI- Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria),  Ms Eva Heza (Secretariat- ACHPR, Gambia).

 

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 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 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.

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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).

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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).

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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.

pdf Download this Call for Abstracts in PDF (English)
pdf Download this Call for Abstracts in PDF (Français)
pdf Download this Call for Abstracts in PDF (Português)

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.

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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.

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.

pdf Download the Call for Applications

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. 

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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

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.

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.

In a statement released on 12 May 2016, the Centre for Human Rights explained why we agreed, after extensive consultations with our partners, to co-host the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Banjul, The Gambia, despite issues we had raised in an earlier statement on 20 April 2016, condemning human rights violations in The Gambia and calling for the relocation of the AU’s African Year of Human Rights celebrations away from Banjul.

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pdf Téléchargez ce communiqué de presse (Français)
pdf Faça o download deste Declaracao a Imprensa (Português)

Prof Christof Heyns, former Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Professor of human rights law at the University of Pretoria, was nominated in March 2016 by the South African Government as its candidate to the prestigious 18 member United Nations Human Rights Committee, and was elected as a member in New York on 23 June 2016.

The brochure prepared by the South African Government, as well as endorsements of his candidature by various luminaries in the field, are listed below.

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In view of assisting and strengthening the mechanism of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA), on the 8 and 9 June 2016, the Gender Unit of the Centre for Human Rights organised and convened a workshop in Cote d'Ivoire on state reporting under the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Women’s Protocol). The workshop was held on the 8 and 9 June 2016.

On 17 May 2016 the Seychelles parliament passed a landmark bill to amend the country’s Penal Code to decriminalise sodomy. This was fittingly done on the day of the commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Bi-phobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT or IDAHOBiT).

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The Integrated Bar Project (IBP) was established in the late 1980's with the objective of exposing senior black South African law students to the legal practice of especially commercial law in the country's larger law firms. Since then approximately 1385 students from all law faculties in South Africa have undertaken 3-week internships during the July university holidays. Almost all the top law firms in the country participated and additional specialised phases were added.

The Integrated Bar Project (IBP) aimed to place 100-150 senior black law students from all South Africa's Universities on July holiday internships with South Africa's top law firms. Twenty of these students advanced to specialised internships with the High Courts, the Constitutional Court and the largest commercial banks in South Africa.

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The IBP was an initiative resulting from a partnership between the

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