The right to life is often described as a supreme human right, but it is clearly under pressure worldwide. The premier human rights body of the African Union on Monday released a significant new guide on how states and societies in Africa, and indeed worldwide, should protect this right.
A recent conference organised by the Centre for Human Rights shed light on the successes of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) in influencing the adoption of access to information legislation across Africa.
On Wednesday 9 December 2015, the Centre for Human Rights hosted a conference on ‘Soft Law and Human Rights: The Impact of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa’, at the Senate Hall of the University of Pretoria. The conference brought together participants from across all sub-regions of Africa which included: academics, students, civil society actors and a variety of public officials.
The pilot episode of HRDA Chronicles features Melanie Smuts - an alumna from the HRDA Class of 2012, who established Streetlight Schools - an initiative aimed at providing high quality and affordable education to children in South Africa.
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.
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.
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.)
On the occasion of Africa Day 2015, the Centre for Human Rghts (CHR) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, is proud to announce the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Nigeria.
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.
From 18 to 21 May 2015, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, undertook an advocacy visit to the Republic of Malawi. The purpose of the visit was to meet with government officials and other stakeholders, to advocate for the adoption of an access to information law in accordance with regional and international standards on access to information as embodied in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (Model Law). The Special Rapporteur was accompanied during this visit by 4 expert members of the Working Group that developed the Model Law.
Violence against women is endemic in South Africa: a woman is killed by an intimate partner every eight hours, South Africa is regularly listed as having the highest rate of rape in the world and survivors of sexual violence receive inadequate and inconsistent treatment.
The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, in collaboration with a group of Eritrean human rights lawyers, launches a glossary of human rights terms in Tigrinya. This is in line with one of the CHR’s main objectives, that is a wider dissemination of publications on human rights in Africa, including the advancement of a human rights literature in indigenous African languages.
The advanced human rights short course on ‘Judicial enforcement of socio-economic rights in Africa’ is the third in the series of advanced short courses presented by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria for 2015. It ran from 11 to 15 May 2015.
The Centre for Human Rights coordinates a project aimed at promoting disability rights awareness, education and scholarship in Southern Africa. As part of this project, the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria hosted the Disability Rights and Law Schools Project in Southern Africa Partner’s meeting between 8 - 10 April 2015. In addition to the CHR, the meeting brought together the following partner institutions: Midlands State University, Zimbabwe, University of Zambia, Chancellor College Malawi, Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique, University of Dodoma, Tanzania, University of Namibia, University of Botswana, University of Nairobi, Kenya and Makerere University, Uganda.
An 'implementation crisis' is widely acknowledged to be afflicting regional and international human rights mechanisms posing a grave threat to their integrity and perceived legitimacy. Against this backdrop, regional and international bodies are pursuing efforts to strengthen their mechanisms for ensuring redress for victims of human rights violations and to ensure the swift and effective implementation of their decisions. This situation adds urgency to a debate which is long-established but remains unresolved: what does it mean to comply with international and regional human rights law and what factors influence whether States comply or not?
The Centre for Human Rights on 21 April 2015 launched a report deploring the state of freedom of expression, specifically, and the rule of law, more broadly, in Eritrea.
This report, entitled ‘The erosion of the rule of law in Eritrea: Silencing freedom of expression”, was prepared by students from the UN mandated University of Peace, in Costa Rica, and students and staff of the Centre for Human Rights. (The report is available open-access on the web site of PULP, web site link.)
On 21 April 2015 at the 56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) in the capital of the Gambia, Banjul, the African Commission in collaboration with IPAS Africa Alliance launched General Comments on Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol). This guide was distributedin Banjul but it is also available for download.
In this statement, the human rights situation in three countries is addressed: the country from which I come (South Africa); the country in respect of which a Centre report was launched earlier at the session (Eritrea); and the country where we all find ourselves (The Gambia).
Students of the 2015 LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) class speak out about the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
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.
From 8 to 10 April 2015, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, undertook an advocacy visit to the Republic of Mauritius. The purpose of the visit was to meet with government officials to advocate for the adoption of an access to information law in accordance with regional and international standards on access to information as embodied in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (Model Law). The Special Rapporteur was accompanied during this visit by 4 expert members of the Working Group which developed the Model Law.
On 8 April 2015, the Centre for Human Rights welcomed the 16th set of students for its Masters Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa.
The class of 2015 is made up of 29 outstanding individuals from 16 African countries as well as from France, Germany and Ukraine
March 21st is both a celebration of how far South Africa has come, as well as an occasion of sombre remembrance of those who gave their lives so that we can be free. We know it as Human Rights Day, but it is also the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Down’s Syndrome Day, which advocates the rights and inclusion of those with Down’s Syndrome, and World Poetry Day.
The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, cordially invites you to the 2015 Welcoming Ceremony to welcome the 2015 students on the Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa.
The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law is very fortunate to be hosting the renowned visiting scholar Prof Rebecca Cook at the University of Pretoria. Prof Cook is Professor Emerita and Co-Director of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programmeat the University of Toronto in Canada.
Gathered in the very charming auditorium of the Plant Sciences were extra-ordinary guests hosted by the Centre for Human Rights on the special occasion of the German Delegation's visit to the University of Pretoria. Among the German delegates were representatives of the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) and other officials of the German government.
The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, hosted an advanced short course with a focus on the effective implementation of disability rights in Africa from 9 - 13 March 2015.
The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) should immediately consider, publish and disseminate the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into human rights violations and abuses committed in South Sudan said 76 organizations in an open letter to the 15 PSC member states.
The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), together with the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), hosted an Africa regional consultation on National Action Plans (NAPs) for business and human rights. The consultation forms part of a larger project driven by a coalition that consists of CALS, CHR, Singapore Management University (SMU) and other individual experts. The aim of the project is to gather a global South perspective on the content and development process of NAPs for business and human rights. The project was mandated by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (Working Group).
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.
The Competition Commission in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a public seminar on ‘The Contribution and Impact of Competition Policy on Socio- Economic Rights’ which will be presented by Former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.
Mr Thulani Maseko, 2005 alumnus of the Master’s Degree Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from Swaziland, is serving a two-year prison sentence in his country for criticising the government. Those who have met him in prison speak eloquently of the intelligent, compassionate and tireless human rights activist devoid of bitterness, hatred or anger. Surrounded by prison walls, he has turned his care and commitment to the welfare of his fellow prisoners, relating to everyone – including his gaolers – with generosity and equanimity.
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.
International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation – is dedicated annually to making the world aware of the harmful effects of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) and to promote its eradication . FGM/C involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia; a deep form of discrimination against women and girls, it directly violates their right to health, and physical integrity. The practice is rooted in cultural and religious beliefs of communities who perceive it as a social obligation to control female sexuality and ‘preserve or protect’ a woman’s chastity.
On 4 and 5 February 2015, the Commonwealth Parliamentarians Association UK held a conference to celebrate 800 years of the Magna Carta. The Conference 'Human Rights in the Modern Day Commonwealth: Magna Carta to Commonwealth Charter’ brought together nearly 50 Commonwealth parliamentarians to explore the fundamental importance of human rights and the development of protections for these rights in law from 1215 to 2015.
On Wednesday 4 February 2015, the Centre for Human Rights and the Law Society of South Africa hosted a colloquium titled “Quo Vadis Public Protector”. The panelists were Mr John Jeffrey (South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development), Adv Thuli Madonsela (South Africa’s Public Protector), Justice Zak Yacoob (retired judge of the South African Constitutional Court), Prof Mtende Mhango (Deputy Head of the School of Law, University of the Witswatersrand) and Mr Law Naidoo (Executive Secretary, Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution).
The Centre for Human Rights expresses serious displeasure at the recent xenophobic attacks and looting of foreign-owned shops in Soweto, Atteridgeville and other areas within the Gauteng province of South Africa.
The recent xenophobic violence has laid bare the aching soul of our nation and challenged each one of us to re-examine what we are doing to preserve the delicate social fabric of the post-1994 democratic South Africa. It is true that the greatest display of African unity was its undivided solidarity with the struggle against apartheid. It is sadly ironic, therefore, that those who lost their lives and property have done so at the hands of the very people whose humanity a united Africa had fought for.
On 27 January the Centre for Human Rights hosted the Dutch Special Envoy for the Global Conference on Cyberspace, Mr Uri Rosenthal, who outlined the topics of the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS2015) that will be held in The Netherlands, The Hague, in April 2015.
The Centre for Human Rights is delighted to announce that the 24th edition of the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition will be held from 31 August to 5 September 2015 at the University of Zambia.
Online Faculty registration (Step 1) opens at Thursday 29 January 2015.
The latest edition of the African Human Rights Law Journal (AHRLJ Volume 1 No 2 2014) is now available on the Open Access Journal's website. All the previous editions are also available on the website.
The Centre for Human Rights, together with the Institute for Human Rights and Business' office in Kenya, hosted a consultation for East Africa on behalf of the African Commission Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights violations in Nairobi, Kenya, from 19 - 21 January 2015. The consultation brought together representatives from civil society, national human rights institutions, affected communities and role players from the extractive sector in East Africa for a three day consultation focusing on challenges, best practices and the way forward in the sub-region. The Working Group was represented by Commissioners Pacifique Manirakiza and Lawrence Mute, and Expert Members Clement Voule, Sheila Keetharuth and Eric Kassongo.
The publication 'Convergence and Conflicts of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in Military Operations' (edited by Erika de Wet and Jann Kleffner and published by the Pretoria University Law Press) is now available online.
From 19 to 21 January 2015, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, undertook an advocacy visit to the Republic of Seychelles. The purpose of the visit was to meet with government officials to advocate for the adoption of an access to information law in accordance with regional and international standards on access to information as embodied in the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa (Model Law). The Special Rapporteur was accompanied during this visit by 3 expert members of the Working Group which developed the Model Law.