Centre for Human Rights:
Response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, is directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures that are being implemented by the South African government.
Although the country is in lock-down (currently at Level 3), the Centre for Human Rights will not shut down during this period. The staff are continuing their work from home, to the extent possible, and will remain virtually connected to colleagues, students and partners, as part of the Centre’s extended family, throughout the time. We are also adapting our projects and reorganising our calendar in line with the demands of the times.
The impact on our regular programmes and functions has been significant. We have therefore had to make efforts to ensure continuity as far as possible and to minimise disruption where possible. While the changes have mostly been reactionary, we recognise their potential to alter our mode of operations, not only in the short term but even the long-term.
Our commitment is driven by the long-term goal of ensuring the advancement of the protection of human rights through education, research and advocacy on the African continent. We are also cognisant of the human rights impact of the pandemic and the response thereto. For instance, we recognise the heightened threats to the rights to life and health, both in the short-term response, but also the longer-term implications for health systems and services. We also see the opportunity this pandemic presents to better understand what reasonable limitation of rights such as the right to freedom of movement entail, particularly in the face of a potentially debilitating health pandemic. It is also a moment that lays bare the insufficiencies of measures put in place to provide a safety net for vulnerable members of our society, particularly older persons, displaced persons and those with very limited resources to adequately respond to exceptional situations, especially in rural areas.