The Centre for Human Rights has been involved in different capacities in litigation before international, regional and sub-regional monitoring bodies. The portfolio of cases in which the Centre has been involved in include:
The Centre for Human Rights has participated in the following cases that has been decided by the international, regional and sub-regional human rights monitoring bodies.
United Nations Human Rights Committee
- Communication No. 1474/2006: Prince v South Africa
The Centre acted as counsel for Gareth Prince who contested the refusal to grant an exemption for the use of cannabis to bona fide Rastafarians.
African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
The Centre prepared two cases that have been submitted and decided by the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, namely:
Michelo Hansungule (on behalf of children in Northern Uganda) v The Government of Uganda,1/Com/001/2005, Decided April 2013, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The Centre for Human Rights (University of Pretoria) & La Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l’Homme (Senegal) v Government of Senegal, 3/Com/001/2012, Decided 15 April 2014, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, available at . The Northern Uganda case was the first case ever submitted to the African Children’s Rights Committee.
African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
- Request for advisory opinions
The Centre has prepared and submitted two requests for advisory opinions to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Both applications were rejected by the court on the basis that the applicants’ observer status before the African Commission does not qualify them as ‘African organisations recognized by the African Union’, which can only be obtained through observer status or MOU with the African Union Commission. The advisory opinions submitted by the Centre are:
- The Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria and Coalition of African Lesbians, Request for Advisory Opinion, Request No 002/2015, Decided 28 September 2018, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, concerning the interpretation of ‘consider’ in article 59(3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, decision available at. The case concerns an attempt by the AU Executive Council to erode the autonomy of the African Commission, in the context of the African Commission having granted observer status to CAL, and the Executive Council directing the African Commission to reverse its decision.
Download amicus curie application
- The Centre for Human Rights, Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya, Women’s Legal Centre, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Zimbabwe women Lawyers Association, Request for Advisory Opinion, Request No 001/2016, Decided 28 September 2018, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Download amicus curiae application
- The application attempts to get some clarity about the consequences of article 6(d) of the Maputo Protocol, which provides that every marriage must be "recorded in writing and registered in accordance with national laws, in order to be legally recognised." In their request for an advisory opinion, the applicants acknowledge that marriage registration requirements are important, but requested clarity about potentially harsh consequences of the lack of recognition of unregistered marriages.
Amicus Curiae submissions
The Centre prepared and submitted an amicus brief in the case of Lohe Issa Konate v Burkina Faso, Merits, Application No. 004/2013, Decided 5 December 2014, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, concerning the criminalisation of defamation, decision available at. The Centre prepared and submitted an amicus brief in Request for Advisory Opinion No 001/2013: Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), concerning the competence of an NGO to bring requests for advisory opinion where the Centre submitted a joint amicus curiae brief to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Centre prepared and submitted an amicus brief in Request No 001/2018: Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU), concerning the decriminalization of vagrancy crimes in Africa. The Centre submitted and amicus curiae brief.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
- Communication 255/02: Prince v South Africa
(The Centre prepared the case submission and represented Gareth Prince before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights)
- Communication 313/05: Kenneth Good v Republic of Botswana
(The Centre submitted an amicus curiae brief in this case)
- Communication 288/04: Gabriel Shumba v Zimbabwe
(The Centre acted as counsel for Gabriel Shumba in this case before the African Commission)
The Centre prepared and argued (through one of its staff members) a case before the ECOWAS Court of Justice, on behalf of RADDHO (ECW/CCJ/APP/03/12).This case concerned the attempt by the incumbent President to extend his presidential tenure to a third term.
Download Case ECW/CCJ/APP/03/12
East African Court of Justice
Our attempt to be admitted as an amicus before the East African Court of Justice failed in respect of Reference No. 6 of 2014 Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) v Attorney General of Uganda.
Domestic: South Africa
Although the Centre has been less involved in litigation at the domestic (South African) level, we have taken steps in two domains: the first is assistance to complainants before the South African Equality Courts (where formal legal representation is not required); the second is the submission of amicus curiae-type briefs (see Democratic Alliance v Minister of International Relations and Cooperation and Others (Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution Intervening) (83145/2016)  ZAGPPHC 53; 2017 (3) SA 212 (GP);  2 All SA 123 (GP); 2017 (1) SACR 623 (GP) (22 February 2017).
Download amicus brief
The case was brought by the Democratic Alliance against the government of South Africa on the unconstitutionality of its withdrawal from the Rome Statute without prior public consultation. The decision in this case eventually led to the government withdrawing its notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute and effectively re-joining the ICC.
The Centre is currently involved in the following cases pending before the African Court and African Commission:
- Communication 383/10 Mohammed Abdullah Saleh Al-Asad v The Republic of Djibouti, (Centre appearing as amicus curiae)
The Centre in collaboration with partner institutions, submitted an amicus curiae application before the African Commission in a case of enforced disappearance pending against Djibouti. The aim of this application is to assist the Commission with information on the standard of proof in cases of enforced disappearances, where the victim in most cases does not have access to essential evidence. The African Commission had initially ruled the case inadmissible on grounds that the applicant could not conclusively prove that he was indeed detained within the jurisdiction of Djibouti and hence we felt strongly that requiring a victim of enforced disappearance to provide “conclusive” proof was too high a standard especially at the admissibility stage since the state is usually the only entity which has access to such evidence in cases of enforced disappearances.
- Communication 726/19: Gregory Chifire v Zambia
The Centre is part of the legal team of the applicant in this case currently before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights relating to the freedom of expression and right to fair trial. Submissions on admissibility have recently been filed on behalf of the applicant.
- Centre for Human Rights (CHR), Institute for human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) & Legal and Human rights Centre (LHRC) v The United Republic of Tanzania,App. No. 019/2018, African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The Centre and its partners submitted this case to the African Court against the government of Tanzania, seeking redress for persons with albinism who have been subjected to killings, mutilations and various forms of discrimination in Tanzania. The application seeks financial compensation and rehabilitation for victims and their dependants, symbolic remedies as well as structural reforms such as legislative changes and efforts on the part of the government to effect social change through public education.
- African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights v Kenya, App. No. 006/2012, Reparations, (CHR appearing at amicus)
The Centre and the Human Rights Implementation Centre, University of Bristol submitted an amicus curiae brief to the African Court highlighting some of the issues that need to be taken into consideration by the Court in deciding on the nature and specificity of reparations to order as well as the follow-up process.
Regional human rights jurisprudence (exchange)
The Unit intends to file amicus briefs before the Inter-American Commission and Court and the European Court of Human Rights on the position of the African human rights institutions on various subjects with the aim of bringing developments within the African human rights system to bear on decisions within the Inter-American European human rights systems.