The Freedom from Violence Unit (formerly known as the Unlawful Killings Unit) was established in 2014 to research the incidence of unlawful killings across the African continent, working within the Centre for Human Rights and the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa.

Unlawful killings, in this context, are taken to include any killings that violate the right to life and hence are contrary to international law. Its work provided material assistance both to the Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa and to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns (2010-16).

The Freedom from Violence Unit now forms part of an international multidisciplinary research collaboration that moves beyond the question “what are the State’s responsibilities to prevent violence?”, so as also to ask “what works?”. It looks to explore both the drivers of violence and the legal framework in which they operate, to identify and trial potential interventions, and to work with relevant policy makers at national, regional and global levels to implement them. In doing so the Initiative looks to combine a human-rights and public-health approach to violence-reduction. 

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