The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), University of Pretoria (UP), hosted the Disability Rights in an African Context advanced short course from 14 - 18 March 2016. The Disability Rights Course which is part of a series of advanced human rights courses offered by the Centre for Human Rights attracted over fifty participants from more than twenty different African countries. Participants included persons with disabilities, their families, civil society groups of persons with disabilities as well as advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, policy makers, policy analysts andLLM/MPhil students taking courses in human rights at the Centre for Human Rights amongst others.

Prof Charles Ngwena from the Centre for Human Rights is the academic coordinator of the short course. The course featured presentations from renowned international disability rights experts Professor Robert Dinerstein, Professor of Law and Director of Disability Rights Law Clinic at American University’s Washington College of Law; Professor Michael Stein from Harvard Law School (who is also an Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Human Rights); Professor Anna Lawson, Professor at the School of Law at Leeds; Professor Francisco Barriffi from the Centre for Research and Education in Human Rights, Faculty of Law, National University of Mar de Plata and Mr Alberto Enculada, Research coordinator at the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Lecturers from South Africa and the rest of Africa gave a regional perspective on disability rights and included: Professor Charles Ngwena (CHR); Dr Ilze Grobbelaar-du Plessis (UP); Ms Innocentia Mgijima (CHR); Dr Nkatha Murungi; (Head of Children and the Law Programme at The African Child Policy Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and Commissioner Lawrence Mhute (African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Chair and Member, Working Group on Older Persons and People with Disabilities in Africa).

Seventeen lectures were delivered over the course of the short course on a diverse range of issues including the development of disability as a human rights issue at the global, regional and domestic levels, regulation of disability discrimination in the African, European and American regions and finally applying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to selected areas (including access to justice, adequate standard of living, accessibility of goods and services, legal capacity, inclusive education, employment, reproductive and sexual health and national implementation and monitoring.

In a bid to raise awareness on the human rights violations faced by persons with albinism on the continent, particularly the ongoing ritual killings and attacks of persons with albinism in certain parts of the continent the Centre for Human Rights screened the documentaryIn the Shadow of the Sunfilmed by Harry Freeland. The documentary which features the struggles of Josephat Torner, a campaigner with albinism campaigning for the de-mystification of the superstitions about albinistic people in Tanzania highlights prevailing harmful erroneous practices, myths and beliefs which directly and indirectly hinders the enjoyment of human rights and equal participation of persons with albinism in society.

The Disability Rights Course has been running for 5 year and seeks to equip participants with the insights and skills necessary to translate the generalities of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) into tangible reform for persons with disabilities in the African region. Broadly stated, the overall aims and objectives of the short course are to provide participants with knowledge and techniques that enable them to:

a.    understand the development of disability as a global human right that culminated in the adoption of the CRPD;
b.   understand and apply provisions of the CRPD at an African domestic and regional level;
c.    apply the CRPD to selected areas;
d.   understand the development of disability as a human rights issue at the African regional and sub-regional levels;
e.    understand and apply the intersection between the human rights and cultural aspects of disability in an African context;
f.     understand and apply disability from a comparative human rights law perspective of other regions, including the European and Latin American regions and;
g.    understand and apply the regulation of disability from a comparative law perspective of selected non-African countries.

The applications for the Disability Short course are accepted on a rolling basis and can be accessed on http://www.chr.up.ac.za/courses-presented/disability-rights-in-an-african-context. Prior legal knowledge or experience is not required to attend the course.

For more information please contact:

Dennis Antwi
Project Manager :Advanced Human Rights Courses
Centre for Human Rights
Tel: +27 12 420 4197
Fax: +27 (0) 86 580 5743
Email: dennis.antwi@up.ac.za


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