The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (the Centre) is deeply concerned by the reported ongoing human rights violations in our immediate northern neighbour, taking the form of excessive use of force and restrictions on the free flow of information. We urge the South African government to offer itself as a facilitator to assist in seeking a solution in the interest of Zimbabwe’s people.

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On 11 December 2018, the Constitutional Court of South Africa in the matter between Law Society of South Africa and Others v. The President of the Republic of South Africa and Others, upheld the 1 March 2018 decision of the Northern Gauteng High Court that the President’s decision and signing of the 2014 Protocol which disbanded the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal was unconstitutional, unlawful and irrational. The Court thereby ordered the President to withdraw his signature from the 2014 Protocol to the SADC Tribunal.

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On 10 December 2018, the world celebrated International Human Rights Day and commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Indeed the UDHR and subsequent human rights instruments have had an enduring impact on the lives of many across the world and has arguably contributed to a more equitable world. The adoption of the UDHR coincided with the institution of formalised apartheid in 1948. As the struggle against apartheid intensified over the subsequent period, the world-wide resistance was increasingly framed along the underlying values and provisions of the UDHR.  

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At the Centre for Human Rights Graduation Ceremony on 7 December 2018, which is the last Graduation Ceremony to be presided over by the current Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, an honorary doctorate degree will be awarded to former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. The event, at which degrees are awarded to students in human rights, commemorates 100 years since the birth of former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and 70 years since the adoption of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Christof Heyns, professor in the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, of which he is a member, to lead a two-year process to draft guidelines on the proper management of demonstrations. This will be the leading UN text setting out the international legal and other standards determining how States must approach mass protest and other forms of assembly.

The 18-member Human Rights Committee will start in March 2019 to draft the new guidelines, with inputs from the 172 States that are members of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as other interested parties, such as police organisations and NGOs

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The Centre participated in the CSO forum of the ACERWC which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 9 to 12 November 2018 under the theme, ‘leave no child behind for Africa’s development: Setting the CSO agenda’. The Centre also participated in the 32nd session of the ACERWC which was held from 12 to 20 November 2018 in Addis Ababa.

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What brings us – states, Commission, civil society, and others – here, to the 63rd session if the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, is our joint pursuit to better protect the rights of Africa’s peoples – in all their diversity. We have just lived through the second year of the AU’s 2016-declared Human and Peoples’ Rights Decade in Africa 2017-2026. However, Africa’s people would be forgiven for feeling perplexed and disappointed, and question the legitimacy of both their states and the African Commission to claim to be protectors of their rights.

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The Centre welcomes the promotional visit by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Right (African Commission) to South Africa.  This visit, which takes place from 3 to 8 September, aims to raise awareness about the African human rights system, established under the African Union(AU), and to provide a forum for dialogue about the state of human rights in South Africa.

Having been established in 1987 to supervise states’ adherence to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), the Commission is the longest-standing AU human rights body. It is an independent body, composed of eleven African experts, created as an autonomous institution to supervise human rights within member states. Its mandate is to promote and protect the rights of everyone under the jurisdiction of states that have accepted to be bound by the African Charter. All AU member states, with the exception of Morocco, have become a party to the African Charter. South Africa joined soon after its democratic transition, in 1995.

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"It’s time for Africa to commit to protect the rights of older persons”

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in partnership with HelpAge Global Network in Africa and Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa, on 9 August 2018 organised a Policy Dialogue with Key Government Institutions including the African Union Social Affairs Department responsible for coordination and ratification of the African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons (Protocol) on 8 August 2018 and a regional expert meeting for West Africa on the theme “Human rights of older women in West Africa: The need for enhanced protection”. 

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Civil society organizations in South Africa comprised of a broad collective of human rights and women’s rights organizations and Trade Unions add their voice to the call for immediate and decisive action towards ending violence against women in South Africa. 

We call upon every woman in South Africa to join us on the 1st of August to march peacefully in protest of the violence with impunity targeted at women. We demand that the government of South Africa pay particular attention to the continued and increasing spate of violence against women and girls and take concrete measures to end the violation of women’s right to life, dignity and security of persons. 

GENEVA (26 June 2018) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea expressed concern that patterns of violations identified over the past six years persist, namely arbitrary and incommunicado detention, indefinite military/national service amounting to forced labour and severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

In her fifth and final report to the Human Rights Council, Sheila Keetharuth expressed concern that the human rights violations she identified in her first and subsequent reports, as well as in those of the Commission of Inquiry in Eritrea remained unchanged. 

On 16 June 2018, Africa commemorates the Day of the African Child 2018 under the theme “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development”. This year’s theme aims to target children who are not benefitting from Africa’s growth and development. African countries are challenged to ensure that children are at the centre and not left behind in the drive towards sustainable economic development. This day is commemorated in memory of the Soweto student uprising, that began on June 16 1976, when students marched in protest against the poor quality of education they received and demanded to be taught in their own languages.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is extremely concerned about the continuing human rights violations in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, and the lack of international alarm and action about the situation. Available evidence strongly suggests that crimes against humanity have been and are being committed in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

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Visit the #StopCameroonViolations Campaign website

Experts from across Southern Africa attended a meeting at the University Pretoria on 30 May 2018 to explore ways in which more attention can be drawn to the plight of older women in the region, and in Africa. They called for African states to follow the lead of Lesotho, which is on the verge of formalising its ratification of the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. .

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is gravely concerned by recent allegations of precarious living conditions in certain residential homes for older persons. Reports of alleged abuse of older persons in the Lodewyk Spies Home, located in Pretoria, places a spotlight on some of the human rights violations that older persons face in residential care. The old age home is accused of neglecting residents, controlling the residents’ social grants cards, and depriving the residents of nutritious food. Older persons, inside and outside of residential care, face discrimination which has an impact on their prospects for employment, their healthcare treatment and their ability to make decisions about their own lives. The Centre calls upon the Department of Social Development to conduct regular investigations of all older person residential care facilities, as mandated by section 22 of South Africa’s Older Persons Act 13 of 2006.

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The Centre for Human Rights has learnt with grave concern reports of the attack against Mr Ericino de Salema, a journalist and political commentator in Mozambique. According to reports, Mr de Salema was abducted on Tuesday 27 March 2018 and later found severely beaten and unconscious at a ring road in the Mutanhane area of the Maputo province in Mozambique. It is reported that his legs where repeatedly hit with an iron rod, in an apparent effort to break them. It is believed he remains unconscious and that he sustained multiple fractures to his feet, femur and arms. Mr De Salema’s abduction appears to be connected to his regular feature as a political commentator on Soico Televisão (STV) Sunday Programme ‘Ponto de Vista. In recent times, Mr de Salema has expressed views on a wide variety of politically sensitive issues.

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Granting asylum seekers refugee status on the basis of persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation in Africa – best practice or just best laws from South Africa?

Following a seminar organised by the Centre for Human Rights, which revealed the difficulties of asylum seekers in South Africa applying for refugee status on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the Centre calls on the South African government to appoint trained professionals to process applications in a sensitive manner and in an environment that protects the privacy and dignity of applicants, with a view to achieving a humane yet thorough and expedited process.

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is pleased to announce the start of a comprehensive study into the impact of the United Nations (UN) human rights treaty system in 20 countries around the world.

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Association (Pan Africa ILGA) strongly condemn the recent arrest of parents and NGO personnel at a training workshop on HIV prevention. 

On Friday 15 September 2017, Zanzibari police, acting on the orders of the District Commissioner, arrested a group of twenty parents, local partners and staff of an implementing NGO for organising and attending a workshop on peer-to-peer parent HIV and AIDS prevention. The workshop was aimed at addressing stigma and discrimination in the family with regards to HIV and AIDS. According to a local NGO leader, the group was accused of “training people on homosexuality”, which is not a crime in any known law in operation in Tanzania. 
 

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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 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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“Persons with albinism face significant barriers restricting their participation in society on an equal basis with others and preventing them from realising basic rights such as the right to physical and mental health, including access to adequate health care, and the right to education, social services, legal protection, and redress for rights abuses.”

United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism Ms. Ikponwosa Ero in a statement issued today to commemorate the International albinism awareness day

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Madame Chair, Honourable Commissioners, the Centre for Human Rights welcomes the ongoing work of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa to continue placing questions concerning the right to life, the supreme human right, high on the agenda of the African Commission.

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Over the past six months, the English-speaking part of Cameroon has experienced serious repression and continuous human rights violations. The crisis erupted in October 2016, following a series of sit-in strikes and non-violent actions initiated by common law lawyers and teachers’ trade unions in protest against the government’s policy of assimilation through the imposition of the civil law judges to preside over cases in common law courts and French-speaking teachers to teach in English schools. This policy seems designed to systematically wipe out the legal and education systems of the peoples of Southern Cameroons.

The government’s lethal response to the strikes and protest actions led to the death of at least 8 protesters on 8 December 2016, and subsequent extra-judicial killings, disappearances, rape, maiming, torture and other forms of degrading and inhumane treatment. Civil society organisations coordinating the strikes and protest actions were banned on 17 January 2017.  Leaders, including Justice Ayah Paul Abine (Supreme Court Judge), Dr Felix Agbor Balla (prominent international human rights lawyer), Dr Neba Fontem (a university lecturer), Mr Mancho Bibixy (a civil rights activists), and hundreds of other activists and protesters were arrested and transferred to the nation’s capital, Yaoundé (a civil law jurisdiction). They are currently being tried in a military court on charges of terrorism, which carries a death penalty if found guilty. These actions violate the right to fair trial. This is happening in spite of the African Commissions’ ruling in the Kelvin Gunme v Cameroon (para 215(1)(ii)) forbidding the transfer of accused persons from the English-speaking part to be tried in the French-speaking part of the country.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, expresses deep concern about the treason charge Zambia’s opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema is facing.

The Centre is deeply concerned about the serious recent ethnic tensions in Zambia, which appear to be politically motivated and to be part of an orchestrated campaign by sections of senior level politicians seeking to earn political dividends at the expense of peace in the country.  

Hichilema faces two charges, one for obstructing President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade, and another for treason, which is a non-bailable offence. Treason is an extremely serious offence, for which the maximum penalty is the death penalty.

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The Centre for Human Rights joins the rest of South Africa to celebrate Freedom Day 2017. On 27 April 1994, there was a major shift in South Africa’s trajectory with the first non-racial post-apartheid election being held in the country. Twenty three years ago, by this symbolic exercise, apartheid and oppression were formally rejected and South Africa resolved to ensure democracy and equality. This Freedom Day milestone was preceded by the struggle, bloodshed, purposefulness, hard work and the resilience of the people of South Africa. However, it is pertinent to note that the celebration of Freedom Day is South Africa’s victory just as much as it is the victory of Africa and the world. In Nelson Mandela’s speech at the 1995 Freedom Day celebration, he stated that Freedom Day marks a ‘transition from a history of oppression to a future of freedom.’ While revelling in our glorious past on a day like today, South Africa’s present and tomorrow are equally to be reflected upon and attended to.

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Delegates to a symposium on land, heritage and human rights gathered in Pretoria for an urgent dialogue.

They heard that a human rights approach to land redistribution, grounded in the effective implementation of Section 25 of the 1996 Constitution of South Africa, can still guarantee a life of dignity, equality and freedom for all South Africans. This was the view expressed by Prof. Bongani Majola, Chair of the South African Human Rights Commission. Prof Mathole Motshekga, Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Justice and Correctional Services, agreed with this sentiment, adding that Parliament has not done enough to effectively make use of the possibilities allowed for under Section 25 of the Constitution, to adopt enabling legislation.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, takes note, with satisfaction, of the South African government’s revocation of its ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ in line with the decision of the North Gauteng High Court of 22 February 2017. In its decision, the High Court found that the deposit of South Africa’s ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ was unconstitutional because Parliament’s approval for withdrawal from the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC Statute) was not sought or obtained. The Court ordered the government to revoke its withdrawal notice, which it has now done.

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In commemorating International Women’s Day with the UN theme focusing on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, the University of Pretoria, welcomes the nomination of Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya as the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. She has extensive experience having served in the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, the Labour and the High Court. If Justice Maya’s nomination gets confirmed, she would become South Africa’s first woman President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. This would be ground breaking and a major step in ensuring that women are represented equally in the judiciary and in achieving gender equality.

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(On 22 February  2017 the Centre for Human Rights welcomed the judgment of the Full Bench of Gauteng Division, Pretoria, in the matter of Democratic Alliance v Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Others (case no. 83145/16). The CHR, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, was joined as a party to the proceedings by the applicant for its interest in the matter. Read the joint statement with the LRC here.)

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is gravely concerned about the on-going human rights violations, particularly of the right to freedom of expression in the North West and South West regions of the Republic of Cameroon (English-speaking Cameroon).

Since 17 January 2017, internet connections have been completely shut down in English-speaking Cameroon, reportedly on the orders of the Ministry of Communications. This action is an apparent attempt to suppress the use of social media to mobilise the mass protests that have taken place in English-speaking Cameroon since November 2016. The Centre for Human Rights had on 17 February, expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in English-speaking Cameroon, sighting ‘reports of arbitrary arrests, abductions, extra-judicial killings, involuntary disappearances, rape, torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, trial of civilians by military tribunals, shut down of internet services and the shutdown of schools’.

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With Morocco’s re-entry into the African Union (AU) earlier in 2017, important questions around the self-determination of the people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) have taken centre stage again. To answer some of these questions, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, together with the Embassy of the SADR in South Africa, hosted a panel discussion on Monday 27 February 2017.

The event brought together ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, students, academics and representatives of state authorities, under the theme ‘Self-determination delayed: The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’. The panel consisted of Ambassador Radhi Bachir (Ambassador to South Africa from the SADR), Ambassador Ghulam Asmal (Director: NEPAD and Partnerships in the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)) and Mr José Nascimento (Practitioner and international law expert).

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Recognising that South Africa has experienced xenophobic violence on numerous occasions on a scale which has been unprecedented in its democratic history, South Africa needs to recognise and strengthen those policies and laws which will promote tolerance and cater for appropriate sanctions for perpetrators of xenophobia. The last years have seen frequent attacks against refugees and migrants living in South Africa. We are reminded that between 2000 and 2008 close to 67 people died due to what became identified as xenophobic attacks in South Africa.[1] In May 2008, 62 people were killed and 600 sustained injuries as a result of xenophobic attacks.[2]Twenty-five of those killed were South Africans who were mistakenly believed to be non-nationals. Since 2009, the number of attacks against refugees and migrants in South Africa escalated reaching an average of between two and three attacks annually. In April 2015 at least 5 people died and about 5000 others were displaced when there was an outbreak of xenophobic attacks in the KwaZulu Natal province. During the 2015 attacks, at least 5 people were killed. Last week foreign nationals in Pretoria faced another wave of violent attacks. As in the past, these attacks caused loss of lives, injury, loss of livelihood and irreparable damage to property.

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Through his activism over the decades, lawyer, revolutionary and politician – Oliver Reginald Tambo – left a lasting impression on South Africa and its Constitution. In celebration of his legacy, the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria together with the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, hosted the first in a series of Oliver Tambo Centenary Lectures on Wednesday 22 February 2017.

The event brought together students, academics and members of civil society to pay homage to Tambo’s life. Attendees were welcomed by the University’s Chancellor, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu. Former Mayor of Ekhuruleni, Duma Nkosi – who played an instrumental role in the official renaming Johannesburg International Airport in Tambo’s honour – was also present.

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pdfClick here to download the text version of the Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture by Justice Albie Sachs

Click here to watch the Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture by Justice Albie Sachs on YouTube

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, welcomes today’s judgment of the Full Bench of Gauteng Division, Pretoria, in the matter of Democratic Alliance v Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Others (case no. 83145/16). The CHR, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, was joined as a party to the proceedings by the applicant for its interest in the matter.

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pdfCentre calls for extension of due date for submissions on ICC withdrawal

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon (English-speaking Cameroon), including reported arbitrary arrests, abductions, extra-judicial killings, involuntary disappearances, rape, torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, trial of civilians by military tribunals, shut down of internet services and the shutdown of schools (since November 2016).

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, notes with regret that the Tanzanian government has ordered the arrest of three men accused of ‘promoting’ homosexuality through social media. This action by the Assistant Minister of Health Hamisi Kigwangalla is a violation of human principles contained in the constitution of Tanzania international human rights treaties which Tanzania is party to.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria is shocked and horrified at the findings of the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, following an investigation into the circumstances in which more than 94 persons with mental disabilities died between 23 March and 19 December 2016 in Gauteng Province.

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With the inauguration of the President-elect of The Gambia scheduled for 19 January 2017, the situation in that country is of grave concern to us, as it is to many fellow Africans.

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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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(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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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Sunday 12 June 2016 was a sad day in the history of the struggle for LGBTI rights in the world. Fifty revellers were gunned down at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida, USA. The gunman’s actions were apparently inspired by his hatred for persons of a different sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) and the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender (CSA&G), both at the University of Pretoria, believe in and work for the realisation of the rights of all persons on the African continent, including sexual minorities, based on the rights protected by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. We strongly condemn this heinous act, and call upon all to respect the rights of all persons around the globe irrespective of what or who they are.

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The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria welcomes the publication of the report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) confirming that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea. This report comes a few weeks after Eritrea’s jubilant 25th independence anniversary, during which the country celebrated its liberation after a long struggle.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, congratulates Eritrea on its 25th independence celebrations. Today, 24 May 2016, marks 25 years since Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia after 30 long years of civil war. To the Eritrean people, 24 May 1991 marked the beginning of an era they hoped would bring peace, justice, equality and prosperity. The people of Eritrea had long hoped for a democratic society where human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, upheld and defended and an unrestricted space created for personal as well as community development.

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 In a statement on 18 April 2016, the Centre for Human Rights expressed grave concern about the human rights situation in The Gambia, on the basis of events that took place from 14 to 16 April 2016. The Centre called on the government of The Gambia to diligently investigate the events; bring to justice and punish those responsible; release from detention those involved in peaceful protest; and provide adequate medical attention to those injured in the protests and in detention.

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It’s Freedom Day, a day that reminds us that on 27 April 1994, South Africa had its first democratic elections. All South Africans were for the first time free to vote. Since then, millions of South Africans have expressed their political freedom in numerous elections at various levels of government.

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Centre for Human Rights condemns human rights violations in The Gambia and calls for relocation of AU African Year of Human Rights celebrations and seat of the African Commission.

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Statement of the Centre for Human Rights
(University of Pretoria)

58th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul, The Gambia, 7 April 2016

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The Centre for Human Rights (the Centre) is delighted to note that the Botswana Supreme Court of Appeal ruled against the Attorney General of that country, and chose to uphold the decision of a lower court instructing the relevant government department to register the organisation Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) as an NGO in Botswana.

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The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, welcomes the clarity provided in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment in the case of The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v The Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Others, on the matter of the visit of the Sudanese head of state, President Omar al-Bashir, to South Africa, and the failure of the South African government to arrest him in accordance with South Africa’s obligations under the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002 (ICC Act).

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, regrets the decision by the ANC’s National General Council, this weekend, that South Africa should withdraw from the ICC Statute. Although this is a political decision, which still has to be converted into a legally binding format, decisions by the highest policy-making organ of the ruling party, the ANC, are highly influential. It calls on the ANC to engage in an inclusive and participatory process, involving all national and international stakeholders.

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The  African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child (African Children’s Rights Committee) made public its third decision (Communication 2/2009, Hansungule and Others (on behalf of children in Northern Uganda) v Uganda, decided at the Committee’s 21st ordinary session, 15-19 April 2013.) In this decision, the African Children’s Rights Committee finds that Uganda conscripted and used child soldiers, in violation of article 22(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter). Article 22(2) provides that state parties to the African Children’s Charter must take ‘all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities and refrain, in particular, from recruiting any child’. A child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.

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The African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child (African Children’s Rights Committee) has made public its second finding on a communication (case) submitted to it. This case deals with the conditions of some 100,000 children (called talibés) who, while attending Qur’anic schools in Senegal, are required to beg on the streets of Dakar and other urban centres, to secure their own survival.  The case was submitted as far back as 2012 by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and the NGO la Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), Senegal (Centre for Human Rights and la Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (on behalf of Senegales Talibés) v Senegal, ACERWC, Comm/001/2012, 15 April 2014.)

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Around the continent, Africans today celebrate “Africa Day”. 25 May marks the day, just over half a century ago, in 1963, on which the African Union (AU)’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), was formed.  Its main initial aim was to eradicate the remaining vestiges of colonialism from Africa. It was, in fact, the OAU that spearheaded continental and global campaigns for the liberation of South Africa from apartheid. After the advent of the AU, around the turn of the millennium, the regional organization increasingly became less preoccupied solely with inter-state relations and took on a more people-centred posture, with its focus shifting to human security, poverty alleviation and economic growth.

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The Centre for Human Rights is appalled and deeply concerned not only about the recent recurrence of xenophobic violence, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, but also by its persistence, and its widespread nature and severity.

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The Centre for Human Rights has learned with shock and distress of the assassination of Prof Gilles Cistac. He was shot four times in the chest by unidentified gunmen in Maputo this morning, Tuesday 3 March 2015. The Centre wishes to express its sincere condolences to the family of Gilles Cistac for the loss of our good friend and esteemed colleague. We join Gilles Cistac’s friends, colleagues and indeed the people of Mozambique in expressing our sadness and outrage at this huge loss to his family, to academia and the legal profession, and to the fraternity of human rights defenders.

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The Centre for Human Rights feels compelled to comment on recent remarks by the South African Speaker of the House of Assembly, when she said "If we don't work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place," at the Mmabatho Civic Centre in Mafikeng.

Following the decision of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice of 13 March 2012 to adjourn the hearing of the case, RADDHO v Senegal, Case No. ECW/CCJ/APP/03/12, the Court proceeded to hear the matter on 4 May 2012.

The Republic of Senegal was represented by their Counsel, Mr Mafall Fall, while RADDHO’s Chairperson, Alioune Tine and RADDHO’s lawyer, Maître Amadou Kane were also present.

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Following the decision of the Constitutional Council of Senegal to endorse President Abdoulaye Wade as a presidential candidate for a third term, RADDHO, a non-governmental organisation based in Dakar, Senegal, lodged a complaint to the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice against the government of the Republic of Senegal on 16 February 2012 cited as case no. ECW/CCJ/APP/03/12.

In bringing the suit, RADDHO enjoyed the support of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, which acted as legal and technical advisor.

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, has followed with great concern the events that have been taking place in the Republic of Senegal since the decision of the Constitutional Council, on 27 January 2012, to allow the incumbent, President Abdoulaye Wade, to run for a third term. In our view, it is a contravention of the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Senegal, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) laws and the President’s own pledge to the Senegalese people.

The Government of Senegal has, despite the legitimate concerns raised by the opposition parties, civil societies as well as a large majority of the citizenry, decreed 26 February 2012 as the date for the presidential election.

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria (the Centre) is deeply concerned by the reported ongoing human rights violations in our immediate northern neighbour, taking the form of excessive use of force and restrictions on the free flow of information. We urge the South African government to offer itself as a facilitator to assist in seeking a solution in the interest of Zimbabwe’s people.

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On 11 December 2018, the Constitutional Court of South Africa in the matter between Law Society of South Africa and Others v. The President of the Republic of South Africa and Others, upheld the 1 March 2018 decision of the Northern Gauteng High Court that the President’s decision and signing of the 2014 Protocol which disbanded the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal was unconstitutional, unlawful and irrational. The Court thereby ordered the President to withdraw his signature from the 2014 Protocol to the SADC Tribunal.

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On 10 December 2018, the world celebrated International Human Rights Day and commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Indeed the UDHR and subsequent human rights instruments have had an enduring impact on the lives of many across the world and has arguably contributed to a more equitable world. The adoption of the UDHR coincided with the institution of formalised apartheid in 1948. As the struggle against apartheid intensified over the subsequent period, the world-wide resistance was increasingly framed along the underlying values and provisions of the UDHR.  

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At the Centre for Human Rights Graduation Ceremony on 7 December 2018, which is the last Graduation Ceremony to be presided over by the current Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University, Professor Cheryl de la Rey, an honorary doctorate degree will be awarded to former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. The event, at which degrees are awarded to students in human rights, commemorates 100 years since the birth of former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and 70 years since the adoption of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Christof Heyns, professor in the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, of which he is a member, to lead a two-year process to draft guidelines on the proper management of demonstrations. This will be the leading UN text setting out the international legal and other standards determining how States must approach mass protest and other forms of assembly.

The 18-member Human Rights Committee will start in March 2019 to draft the new guidelines, with inputs from the 172 States that are members of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as other interested parties, such as police organisations and NGOs

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The Centre participated in the CSO forum of the ACERWC which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 9 to 12 November 2018 under the theme, ‘leave no child behind for Africa’s development: Setting the CSO agenda’. The Centre also participated in the 32nd session of the ACERWC which was held from 12 to 20 November 2018 in Addis Ababa.

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What brings us – states, Commission, civil society, and others – here, to the 63rd session if the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, is our joint pursuit to better protect the rights of Africa’s peoples – in all their diversity. We have just lived through the second year of the AU’s 2016-declared Human and Peoples’ Rights Decade in Africa 2017-2026. However, Africa’s people would be forgiven for feeling perplexed and disappointed, and question the legitimacy of both their states and the African Commission to claim to be protectors of their rights.

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The Centre welcomes the promotional visit by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Right (African Commission) to South Africa.  This visit, which takes place from 3 to 8 September, aims to raise awareness about the African human rights system, established under the African Union(AU), and to provide a forum for dialogue about the state of human rights in South Africa.

Having been established in 1987 to supervise states’ adherence to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), the Commission is the longest-standing AU human rights body. It is an independent body, composed of eleven African experts, created as an autonomous institution to supervise human rights within member states. Its mandate is to promote and protect the rights of everyone under the jurisdiction of states that have accepted to be bound by the African Charter. All AU member states, with the exception of Morocco, have become a party to the African Charter. South Africa joined soon after its democratic transition, in 1995.

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"It’s time for Africa to commit to protect the rights of older persons”

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, in partnership with HelpAge Global Network in Africa and Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa, on 9 August 2018 organised a Policy Dialogue with Key Government Institutions including the African Union Social Affairs Department responsible for coordination and ratification of the African Union Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Older Persons (Protocol) on 8 August 2018 and a regional expert meeting for West Africa on the theme “Human rights of older women in West Africa: The need for enhanced protection”. 

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Civil society organizations in South Africa comprised of a broad collective of human rights and women’s rights organizations and Trade Unions add their voice to the call for immediate and decisive action towards ending violence against women in South Africa. 

We call upon every woman in South Africa to join us on the 1st of August to march peacefully in protest of the violence with impunity targeted at women. We demand that the government of South Africa pay particular attention to the continued and increasing spate of violence against women and girls and take concrete measures to end the violation of women’s right to life, dignity and security of persons. 

GENEVA (26 June 2018) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea expressed concern that patterns of violations identified over the past six years persist, namely arbitrary and incommunicado detention, indefinite military/national service amounting to forced labour and severe restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

In her fifth and final report to the Human Rights Council, Sheila Keetharuth expressed concern that the human rights violations she identified in her first and subsequent reports, as well as in those of the Commission of Inquiry in Eritrea remained unchanged. 

On 16 June 2018, Africa commemorates the Day of the African Child 2018 under the theme “Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development”. This year’s theme aims to target children who are not benefitting from Africa’s growth and development. African countries are challenged to ensure that children are at the centre and not left behind in the drive towards sustainable economic development. This day is commemorated in memory of the Soweto student uprising, that began on June 16 1976, when students marched in protest against the poor quality of education they received and demanded to be taught in their own languages.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is extremely concerned about the continuing human rights violations in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, and the lack of international alarm and action about the situation. Available evidence strongly suggests that crimes against humanity have been and are being committed in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

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Visit the #StopCameroonViolations Campaign website

Experts from across Southern Africa attended a meeting at the University Pretoria on 30 May 2018 to explore ways in which more attention can be drawn to the plight of older women in the region, and in Africa. They called for African states to follow the lead of Lesotho, which is on the verge of formalising its ratification of the African Union’s Protocol on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa. .

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is gravely concerned by recent allegations of precarious living conditions in certain residential homes for older persons. Reports of alleged abuse of older persons in the Lodewyk Spies Home, located in Pretoria, places a spotlight on some of the human rights violations that older persons face in residential care. The old age home is accused of neglecting residents, controlling the residents’ social grants cards, and depriving the residents of nutritious food. Older persons, inside and outside of residential care, face discrimination which has an impact on their prospects for employment, their healthcare treatment and their ability to make decisions about their own lives. The Centre calls upon the Department of Social Development to conduct regular investigations of all older person residential care facilities, as mandated by section 22 of South Africa’s Older Persons Act 13 of 2006.

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The Centre for Human Rights has learnt with grave concern reports of the attack against Mr Ericino de Salema, a journalist and political commentator in Mozambique. According to reports, Mr de Salema was abducted on Tuesday 27 March 2018 and later found severely beaten and unconscious at a ring road in the Mutanhane area of the Maputo province in Mozambique. It is reported that his legs where repeatedly hit with an iron rod, in an apparent effort to break them. It is believed he remains unconscious and that he sustained multiple fractures to his feet, femur and arms. Mr De Salema’s abduction appears to be connected to his regular feature as a political commentator on Soico Televisão (STV) Sunday Programme ‘Ponto de Vista. In recent times, Mr de Salema has expressed views on a wide variety of politically sensitive issues.

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Granting asylum seekers refugee status on the basis of persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation in Africa – best practice or just best laws from South Africa?

Following a seminar organised by the Centre for Human Rights, which revealed the difficulties of asylum seekers in South Africa applying for refugee status on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, the Centre calls on the South African government to appoint trained professionals to process applications in a sensitive manner and in an environment that protects the privacy and dignity of applicants, with a view to achieving a humane yet thorough and expedited process.

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is pleased to announce the start of a comprehensive study into the impact of the United Nations (UN) human rights treaty system in 20 countries around the world.

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and Pan Africa International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Association (Pan Africa ILGA) strongly condemn the recent arrest of parents and NGO personnel at a training workshop on HIV prevention. 

On Friday 15 September 2017, Zanzibari police, acting on the orders of the District Commissioner, arrested a group of twenty parents, local partners and staff of an implementing NGO for organising and attending a workshop on peer-to-peer parent HIV and AIDS prevention. The workshop was aimed at addressing stigma and discrimination in the family with regards to HIV and AIDS. According to a local NGO leader, the group was accused of “training people on homosexuality”, which is not a crime in any known law in operation in Tanzania. 
 

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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 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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“Persons with albinism face significant barriers restricting their participation in society on an equal basis with others and preventing them from realising basic rights such as the right to physical and mental health, including access to adequate health care, and the right to education, social services, legal protection, and redress for rights abuses.”

United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism Ms. Ikponwosa Ero in a statement issued today to commemorate the International albinism awareness day

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Madame Chair, Honourable Commissioners, the Centre for Human Rights welcomes the ongoing work of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa to continue placing questions concerning the right to life, the supreme human right, high on the agenda of the African Commission.

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Over the past six months, the English-speaking part of Cameroon has experienced serious repression and continuous human rights violations. The crisis erupted in October 2016, following a series of sit-in strikes and non-violent actions initiated by common law lawyers and teachers’ trade unions in protest against the government’s policy of assimilation through the imposition of the civil law judges to preside over cases in common law courts and French-speaking teachers to teach in English schools. This policy seems designed to systematically wipe out the legal and education systems of the peoples of Southern Cameroons.

The government’s lethal response to the strikes and protest actions led to the death of at least 8 protesters on 8 December 2016, and subsequent extra-judicial killings, disappearances, rape, maiming, torture and other forms of degrading and inhumane treatment. Civil society organisations coordinating the strikes and protest actions were banned on 17 January 2017.  Leaders, including Justice Ayah Paul Abine (Supreme Court Judge), Dr Felix Agbor Balla (prominent international human rights lawyer), Dr Neba Fontem (a university lecturer), Mr Mancho Bibixy (a civil rights activists), and hundreds of other activists and protesters were arrested and transferred to the nation’s capital, Yaoundé (a civil law jurisdiction). They are currently being tried in a military court on charges of terrorism, which carries a death penalty if found guilty. These actions violate the right to fair trial. This is happening in spite of the African Commissions’ ruling in the Kelvin Gunme v Cameroon (para 215(1)(ii)) forbidding the transfer of accused persons from the English-speaking part to be tried in the French-speaking part of the country.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, expresses deep concern about the treason charge Zambia’s opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema is facing.

The Centre is deeply concerned about the serious recent ethnic tensions in Zambia, which appear to be politically motivated and to be part of an orchestrated campaign by sections of senior level politicians seeking to earn political dividends at the expense of peace in the country.  

Hichilema faces two charges, one for obstructing President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade, and another for treason, which is a non-bailable offence. Treason is an extremely serious offence, for which the maximum penalty is the death penalty.

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The Centre for Human Rights joins the rest of South Africa to celebrate Freedom Day 2017. On 27 April 1994, there was a major shift in South Africa’s trajectory with the first non-racial post-apartheid election being held in the country. Twenty three years ago, by this symbolic exercise, apartheid and oppression were formally rejected and South Africa resolved to ensure democracy and equality. This Freedom Day milestone was preceded by the struggle, bloodshed, purposefulness, hard work and the resilience of the people of South Africa. However, it is pertinent to note that the celebration of Freedom Day is South Africa’s victory just as much as it is the victory of Africa and the world. In Nelson Mandela’s speech at the 1995 Freedom Day celebration, he stated that Freedom Day marks a ‘transition from a history of oppression to a future of freedom.’ While revelling in our glorious past on a day like today, South Africa’s present and tomorrow are equally to be reflected upon and attended to.

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Delegates to a symposium on land, heritage and human rights gathered in Pretoria for an urgent dialogue.

They heard that a human rights approach to land redistribution, grounded in the effective implementation of Section 25 of the 1996 Constitution of South Africa, can still guarantee a life of dignity, equality and freedom for all South Africans. This was the view expressed by Prof. Bongani Majola, Chair of the South African Human Rights Commission. Prof Mathole Motshekga, Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Justice and Correctional Services, agreed with this sentiment, adding that Parliament has not done enough to effectively make use of the possibilities allowed for under Section 25 of the Constitution, to adopt enabling legislation.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, takes note, with satisfaction, of the South African government’s revocation of its ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ in line with the decision of the North Gauteng High Court of 22 February 2017. In its decision, the High Court found that the deposit of South Africa’s ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ was unconstitutional because Parliament’s approval for withdrawal from the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC Statute) was not sought or obtained. The Court ordered the government to revoke its withdrawal notice, which it has now done.

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In commemorating International Women’s Day with the UN theme focusing on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, the University of Pretoria, welcomes the nomination of Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya as the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. She has extensive experience having served in the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, the Labour and the High Court. If Justice Maya’s nomination gets confirmed, she would become South Africa’s first woman President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. This would be ground breaking and a major step in ensuring that women are represented equally in the judiciary and in achieving gender equality.

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(On 22 February  2017 the Centre for Human Rights welcomed the judgment of the Full Bench of Gauteng Division, Pretoria, in the matter of Democratic Alliance v Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Others (case no. 83145/16). The CHR, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, was joined as a party to the proceedings by the applicant for its interest in the matter. Read the joint statement with the LRC here.)

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria is gravely concerned about the on-going human rights violations, particularly of the right to freedom of expression in the North West and South West regions of the Republic of Cameroon (English-speaking Cameroon).

Since 17 January 2017, internet connections have been completely shut down in English-speaking Cameroon, reportedly on the orders of the Ministry of Communications. This action is an apparent attempt to suppress the use of social media to mobilise the mass protests that have taken place in English-speaking Cameroon since November 2016. The Centre for Human Rights had on 17 February, expressed concern about the deteriorating human rights situation in English-speaking Cameroon, sighting ‘reports of arbitrary arrests, abductions, extra-judicial killings, involuntary disappearances, rape, torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, trial of civilians by military tribunals, shut down of internet services and the shutdown of schools’.

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With Morocco’s re-entry into the African Union (AU) earlier in 2017, important questions around the self-determination of the people of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) have taken centre stage again. To answer some of these questions, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, together with the Embassy of the SADR in South Africa, hosted a panel discussion on Monday 27 February 2017.

The event brought together ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, students, academics and representatives of state authorities, under the theme ‘Self-determination delayed: The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic’. The panel consisted of Ambassador Radhi Bachir (Ambassador to South Africa from the SADR), Ambassador Ghulam Asmal (Director: NEPAD and Partnerships in the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)) and Mr José Nascimento (Practitioner and international law expert).

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Recognising that South Africa has experienced xenophobic violence on numerous occasions on a scale which has been unprecedented in its democratic history, South Africa needs to recognise and strengthen those policies and laws which will promote tolerance and cater for appropriate sanctions for perpetrators of xenophobia. The last years have seen frequent attacks against refugees and migrants living in South Africa. We are reminded that between 2000 and 2008 close to 67 people died due to what became identified as xenophobic attacks in South Africa.[1] In May 2008, 62 people were killed and 600 sustained injuries as a result of xenophobic attacks.[2]Twenty-five of those killed were South Africans who were mistakenly believed to be non-nationals. Since 2009, the number of attacks against refugees and migrants in South Africa escalated reaching an average of between two and three attacks annually. In April 2015 at least 5 people died and about 5000 others were displaced when there was an outbreak of xenophobic attacks in the KwaZulu Natal province. During the 2015 attacks, at least 5 people were killed. Last week foreign nationals in Pretoria faced another wave of violent attacks. As in the past, these attacks caused loss of lives, injury, loss of livelihood and irreparable damage to property.

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Through his activism over the decades, lawyer, revolutionary and politician – Oliver Reginald Tambo – left a lasting impression on South Africa and its Constitution. In celebration of his legacy, the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria together with the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, hosted the first in a series of Oliver Tambo Centenary Lectures on Wednesday 22 February 2017.

The event brought together students, academics and members of civil society to pay homage to Tambo’s life. Attendees were welcomed by the University’s Chancellor, Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu. Former Mayor of Ekhuruleni, Duma Nkosi – who played an instrumental role in the official renaming Johannesburg International Airport in Tambo’s honour – was also present.

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pdfClick here to download the text version of the Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture by Justice Albie Sachs

Click here to watch the Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture by Justice Albie Sachs on YouTube

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, welcomes today’s judgment of the Full Bench of Gauteng Division, Pretoria, in the matter of Democratic Alliance v Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Others (case no. 83145/16). The CHR, represented by the Legal Resources Centre, was joined as a party to the proceedings by the applicant for its interest in the matter.

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pdfCentre calls for extension of due date for submissions on ICC withdrawal

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon (English-speaking Cameroon), including reported arbitrary arrests, abductions, extra-judicial killings, involuntary disappearances, rape, torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, trial of civilians by military tribunals, shut down of internet services and the shutdown of schools (since November 2016).

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, notes with regret that the Tanzanian government has ordered the arrest of three men accused of ‘promoting’ homosexuality through social media. This action by the Assistant Minister of Health Hamisi Kigwangalla is a violation of human principles contained in the constitution of Tanzania international human rights treaties which Tanzania is party to.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria is shocked and horrified at the findings of the Health Ombudsman, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, following an investigation into the circumstances in which more than 94 persons with mental disabilities died between 23 March and 19 December 2016 in Gauteng Province.

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With the inauguration of the President-elect of The Gambia scheduled for 19 January 2017, the situation in that country is of grave concern to us, as it is to many fellow Africans.

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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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(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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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Sunday 12 June 2016 was a sad day in the history of the struggle for LGBTI rights in the world. Fifty revellers were gunned down at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida, USA. The gunman’s actions were apparently inspired by his hatred for persons of a different sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) and the Centre for Sexualities, AIDS and Gender (CSA&G), both at the University of Pretoria, believe in and work for the realisation of the rights of all persons on the African continent, including sexual minorities, based on the rights protected by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. We strongly condemn this heinous act, and call upon all to respect the rights of all persons around the globe irrespective of what or who they are.

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The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria welcomes the publication of the report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Eritrea (COIE) confirming that crimes against humanity have been committed in Eritrea. This report comes a few weeks after Eritrea’s jubilant 25th independence anniversary, during which the country celebrated its liberation after a long struggle.

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, congratulates Eritrea on its 25th independence celebrations. Today, 24 May 2016, marks 25 years since Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia after 30 long years of civil war. To the Eritrean people, 24 May 1991 marked the beginning of an era they hoped would bring peace, justice, equality and prosperity. The people of Eritrea had long hoped for a democratic society where human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected, upheld and defended and an unrestricted space created for personal as well as community development.

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 In a statement on 18 April 2016, the Centre for Human Rights expressed grave concern about the human rights situation in The Gambia, on the basis of events that took place from 14 to 16 April 2016. The Centre called on the government of The Gambia to diligently investigate the events; bring to justice and punish those responsible; release from detention those involved in peaceful protest; and provide adequate medical attention to those injured in the protests and in detention.

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It’s Freedom Day, a day that reminds us that on 27 April 1994, South Africa had its first democratic elections. All South Africans were for the first time free to vote. Since then, millions of South Africans have expressed their political freedom in numerous elections at various levels of government.

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Centre for Human Rights condemns human rights violations in The Gambia and calls for relocation of AU African Year of Human Rights celebrations and seat of the African Commission.

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Statement of the Centre for Human Rights
(University of Pretoria)

58th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul, The Gambia, 7 April 2016

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The Centre for Human Rights (the Centre) is delighted to note that the Botswana Supreme Court of Appeal ruled against the Attorney General of that country, and chose to uphold the decision of a lower court instructing the relevant government department to register the organisation Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) as an NGO in Botswana.

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The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, welcomes the clarity provided in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment in the case of The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v The Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Others, on the matter of the visit of the Sudanese head of state, President Omar al-Bashir, to South Africa, and the failure of the South African government to arrest him in accordance with South Africa’s obligations under the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002 (ICC Act).

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The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, regrets the decision by the ANC’s National General Council, this weekend, that South Africa should withdraw from the ICC Statute. Although this is a political decision, which still has to be converted into a legally binding format, decisions by the highest policy-making organ of the ruling party, the ANC, are highly influential. It calls on the ANC to engage in an inclusive and participatory process, involving all national and international stakeholders.

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The  African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child (African Children’s Rights Committee) made public its third decision (Communication 2/2009, Hansungule and Others (on behalf of children in Northern Uganda) v Uganda, decided at the Committee’s 21st ordinary session, 15-19 April 2013.) In this decision, the African Children’s Rights Committee finds that Uganda conscripted and used child soldiers, in violation of article 22(2) of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter). Article 22(2) provides that state parties to the African Children’s Charter must take ‘all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities and refrain, in particular, from recruiting any child’. A child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.

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The African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child (African Children’s Rights Committee) has made public its second finding on a communication (case) submitted to it. This case deals with the conditions of some 100,000 children (called talibés) who, while attending Qur’anic schools in Senegal, are required to beg on the streets of Dakar and other urban centres, to secure their own survival.  The case was submitted as far back as 2012 by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, and the NGO la Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (RADDHO), Senegal (Centre for Human Rights and la Rencontre Africaine pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (on behalf of Senegales Talibés) v Senegal, ACERWC, Comm/001/2012, 15 April 2014.)

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Around the continent, Africans today celebrate “Africa Day”. 25 May marks the day, just over half a century ago, in 1963, on which the African Union (AU)’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), was formed.  Its main initial aim was to eradicate the remaining vestiges of colonialism from Africa. It was, in fact, the OAU that spearheaded continental and global campaigns for the liberation of South Africa from apartheid. After the advent of the AU, around the turn of the millennium, the regional organization increasingly became less preoccupied solely with inter-state relations and took on a more people-centred posture, with its focus shifting to human security, poverty alleviation and economic growth.

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The Centre for Human Rights is appalled and deeply concerned not only about the recent recurrence of xenophobic violence, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, but also by its persistence, and its widespread nature and severity.

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The Centre for Human Rights has learned with shock and distress of the assassination of Prof Gilles Cistac. He was shot four times in the chest by unidentified gunmen in Maputo this morning, Tuesday 3 March 2015. The Centre wishes to express its sincere condolences to the family of Gilles Cistac for the loss of our good friend and esteemed colleague. We join Gilles Cistac’s friends, colleagues and indeed the people of Mozambique in expressing our sadness and outrage at this huge loss to his family, to academia and the legal profession, and to the fraternity of human rights defenders.

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The Centre for Human Rights feels compelled to comment on recent remarks by the South African Speaker of the House of Assembly, when she said "If we don't work we will continue to have cockroaches like Malema roaming all over the place," at the Mmabatho Civic Centre in Mafikeng.

Following the decision of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice of 13 March 2012 to adjourn the hearing of the case, RADDHO v Senegal, Case No. ECW/CCJ/APP/03/12, the Court proceeded to hear the matter on 4 May 2012.

The Republic of Senegal was represented by their Counsel, Mr Mafall Fall, while RADDHO’s Chairperson, Alioune Tine and RADDHO’s lawyer, Maître Amadou Kane were also present.

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Following the decision of the Constitutional Council of Senegal to endorse President Abdoulaye Wade as a presidential candidate for a third term, RADDHO, a non-governmental organisation based in Dakar, Senegal, lodged a complaint to the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice against the government of the Republic of Senegal on 16 February 2012 cited as case no. ECW/CCJ/APP/03/12.

In bringing the suit, RADDHO enjoyed the support of the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, which acted as legal and technical advisor.

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The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, has followed with great concern the events that have been taking place in the Republic of Senegal since the decision of the Constitutional Council, on 27 January 2012, to allow the incumbent, President Abdoulaye Wade, to run for a third term. In our view, it is a contravention of the letter and spirit of the Constitution of Senegal, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) laws and the President’s own pledge to the Senegalese people.

The Government of Senegal has, despite the legitimate concerns raised by the opposition parties, civil societies as well as a large majority of the citizenry, decreed 26 February 2012 as the date for the presidential election.

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