The litigation and Implementation unit is involved in different advocacy activities that are geared towards strengthening the effectiveness of international human rights monitoring bodies. The Centre has observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child and consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. As part of the obligations arising from the observer status of the Centre, the Litigation and Implementation Unit, coordinates the activities of the Centre before the African Commission, the African Children’s Committee and the Human Rights Council. To this effect, the Unit has coordinated the participation of the Centre in different sessions of human rights bodies through the submission of shadow reports and delivery of oral statements.
SADC Tribunal advocacy campaign
Following the suspension of the SADC Tribunal, the Centre has collaborated with other SADC NGOs in developing advocacy campaigns and strategies for the restoration of the individual access and human rights jurisdictions of the defunct SADC Tribunal. In 2015, the SADC Lawyers’ Association commissioned the Centre to conduct a research on the role of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in promoting human rights and strengthening regional social, economic and political integration in SADC.
Advocacy before the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Statement on the rights and welfare of the child at the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
On 24 April 2018, the Centre delivered a statement at the 31st Ordinary Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. The Centre expressed its concerns about the situation of children in conflict situations in South Sudan, the Kasai region of DRC, North Eastern Nigeria and other conflict situations across the continent. The Centre also expressed its concerns about the situation of children accused of witchcraft in Ghana, Nigeria and other member states. The Centre urged the Committee to amongst other things continue utilising the relevant channels to engage with the authorities of these countries to comply with their obligations under the African Children’s Charter to protect the rights of these children.
Advocacy before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Oral statement at 68 ordinary session of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
On 17 April 2021, at the 68 ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Centre called the attention of the African Commission to the urgent need for African Countries to address the issue of limited pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity—one of the important barriers to the widespread availability and accessibility of Covid-19 vaccines on the African continent. To this effect, the Centre urged African Countries to investigate the barriers to African manufacturing capacity and strengthen their capacity. The Centre also urged the African Commission to provide further guidance for states by building on Resolutions 449 and 141 on Access to Health and Needed Medicines in Africa. In addition to the above, the Centre called the attention of the African Commission to the need for African states to ratify the Protocol to the African Charter on the rights of older persons in Africa in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic which has disproportionately affected older persons.
The Centre also encouraged African states to comply with the reporting guidelines during the preparation of state reports including reporting on implementation of the Maputo Protocol, as required by article 26 of the protocol to the African Charter on the rights of women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). Furthermore, the Centre urged the African Commission to take steps to popularise its General Comment 6 which focuses on women’s right to property during separation, divorce or annulment.
Finally, the Centre called the attention of the African Commission to the human rights implications of the ongoing insurgency in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique and recommend that the Commission launches an investigation into the human rights abuses reported in the region.
Shadow reports at 68 Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
At the 68 Ordinary Session of the African Commission, the Centre for Human Rights submitted shadow reports to the state reports of Malawi and Benin Republic.
Shadow reports at 69 Ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
At the 69 ordinary session of the African Commission, the Centre for Human Rights submitted shadow reports to the state report of Kenya and an updated shadow report to the state report of Benin for the consideration of the African Commission. The shadow reports were submitted in English and French.
At the 69 ordinary session of the African Commission, the Centre expressed its concerns about the limited and waning individual access to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In the light of the limited and shrinking individual access to the African Court, the Centre reiterated that the role of the African Commission as one of the channels of individual access to the African Court in line with article 5 of the African Court’s Protocol is more crucial than ever. The Centre urged the African Commission, in collaboration with the Court, to finalise the adoption of a set of clear guidelines for referral, with a view to ensure an effective and functional complementarity between the two institutions, which will result in referral of cases particularly in respect of African states that have ratified the African Court’s Protocol but are yet to make the article 34(6) declaration.
The Centre also highlighted issues around greater involvement of private actors in providing essential socio-economic services on the African Continent and the need for the African Commission to adopt a general comment setting out State obligations to regulate private actors in this context.
The Centre also addressed the African Commission on the situation of intersex persons in Africa. The Centre urged the African Commission to build on the guidance it provided during its 26th extra-ordinary session and draw inspiration from recent developments across the world to expand its mandate to include intersex persons. The Centre encouraged the African Commission to adopt soft law standards on the most salient human rights concerns of intersex persons.
Advocacy before the Human Rights Council
Oral statement during Human Rights Council’s enhanced interactive dialogue on oral updates on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
On 22 March 2021, at its 46 ordinary session, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) had its enhanced interactive dialogue on oral updates on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The HRC was updated about the human rights situation in the DRC by the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC and the International Team of Experts on the Kasai Region.
The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, delivered a statement during the interactive dialogue. The Centre called the attention of the HRC to the situation of human rights defenders in the DRC, particularly in the Eastern DRC, where there have been cases of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders, which often end up not being properly investigated or prosecuted by the government. The Centre informed the HRC about the findings of the Human Rights Committee against the DRC in the case of Deborah Kitumaini and Others v the DRC, and the need for a prompt implementation of the Decision of the Human Rights Committee by the DRC. On 6 November 2020, the Human Rights Committee found that the DRC failed to investigate, prosecute and convict the alleged perpetrators of the assassination of Pascal Kabangulu, a prominent human rights defender in Bukavu, South Kivu province on 31 July 2005.
Oral statement during enhanced interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update about human rights in the Tigray region of Ethiopia
On 13 September 2021, at its 48 ordinary sessions, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) had its enhanced interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update about human rights in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The HRC was updated about the human rights situation in the Tigray region by Ms. Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr. Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission; Mr. Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, Vice-Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and Mr. Gedion Timothewos Hessebon, Attorney General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The oral update also witnessed presentations from representatives of the European Union, the United States of America, African states, and civil society organisations.
In an oral statement delivered during the enhanced interactive dialogue, the Centre for Human Rights encourages a people centered, and urgent intervention in pursuit of a lasting resolution of the issues fueling the crisis in the Tigray region. The Centre also encourages enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and African Union human rights mechanisms as set out in the 2012 Addis Ababa Roadmap.
Oral statement during Human Rights Council Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons
At the 48th Session of the Human Rights Council, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, reiterated the importance of the ratification and entry into force of the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Older Persons in Africa (Older Persons Protocol). During the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons, the Centre for Human Rights advocated for the ratification of the Older Persons Protocol by African states to ensure improved protection of the rights of older persons on the continent.
The Older Persons Protocol is an important regional complement to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for the protection of the rights of older persons in Africa. The Protocol provides contextual guidance to African states by addressing vulnerabilities created by intersecting identities, such as protection from harmful practices like accusations of witchcraft. It also gives a supervisory role to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Even though 49 African states have ratified the CRPD, only 2 African states have to date ratified the Older Persons Protocol, thus stalling the entry into force of the Older Persons Protocol. The Older Persons Protocol has however been signed by 17 African states.