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Centre News & Events: 2015
New guidance on the right to life from the African Commission

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.

In a far-reaching exposition of the international norms, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has set out the standards that States and others should adhere to both during war and during peace. In its new “General Comment” on the right to life, the Commission for example draws attention to the fact that:

  • the African Charter aims to ensure a better life for all by recognising a wide range of rights, and hence envisages the protection not only of life in a narrow sense, but of dignified life.
  • the vast majority of African states have abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, and notes that international law requires all States that have not formally abolished capital punishment to be taking steps towards abolition;
  • the right to life continues to apply during armed conflict, where (only in the conduct of hostilities) what amounts to an arbitrary killing is determined with reference to international humanitarian law.
  • these standards should only be applied in situations of actual armed conflict, and not to other violent situations, such as internal disturbances or riots.
  • law enforcement officials may only use potentially lethal force where absolutely necessary in order to protect another life, and States must provide as such in their domestic legislation providing a framework for the use of force
  • when someone dies in custody (whether in a prison, a police vehicle or any other kind of detention facility) there is a presumption of State responsibility, and the State must prove otherwise
  • States can be held responsible in cases where a person is killed by another person, but where authorities approved, supported or acquiesced in the act, or where they failed to take appropriate protective measures.

 

 


 
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Conference on Soft Law and Human Rights: The Impact of the Model Law on Access to Information

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 Model Law was developed as part of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (Special Rapporteur), Advocate Pansy Tlakula, and was adopted by the African Commission in February 2013. Unfortunately, the Special Rapporteur was unable to be present at the conference, as due to her recent appointment as the Chairperson of the African Commission, she was mandated by the African Union Peace and Security Council to lead a fact-finding mission to the Republic of Burundi from 7 to 14 December 2015.

 

 


Prof Frans Viljoen, Prof Themba Mosia and HE Ms Trine Skymoen, the Ambassador of Norway to South Africa
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Post-doctoral Fellow publishes contribution in volume edited by the Hague Academy of International Law

Dr Cristiano d’Orsi, Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law published a contribution on Migration Law in a volume edited by the The Hague Academy of International Law (in French).

The details of the contribution are the following:

Cristiano d’Orsi, “La pérégrination du migrant: l’espoir contraint”, pp. 51-125, in: Protection des migrants et des réfugiés au XXIe siècle :  aspects de droit international / Académie de Droit International de la Haye =Migration and refugee protection in the 21st Century : international legal aspects / Hague Academy of International Law / publié sous la direction de/edited by Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, Philippe Weckel, 2015, Leiden ; Boston : Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Les livres de droit de l'Académie = The law books of the Academy.

 

 


 
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Centre for Human Rights Graduation Ceremony on International Human Rights Day

Since the inception of the LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA) programme in 2000, students annually graduate on International Human Rights Day (10 December). The graduation ceremony is a highlight on the calendar of Centre for Human Rights and this year an honorary doctorate was also awarded to Prof David Padilla, international civil servant, academic and human rights defender.

Over the years Prof Padilla contributed to human rights monitoring and protection, first as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission, during its founding years and later as academic and human rights litigator. He embodies the twin values of excellence and ubuntu and his significant contributions to the Inter-American human rights system, his academic offerings on international human rights law and his excellence, goodness and humanity are celebrated and recognised with this honorary doctorate. Prof Padilla not only taught on the HRDA programme but has also represented one of the alumni of this programme in a case before the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.

 

 


 
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Final Results: 7th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition 2015

The Centre is delighted to announce the successful presentation of the 7th edition of the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition, which was held at Palais des Nations – the seat of the United Nations Office in Geneva – from 8 to 10 December 2015.

The World Moot has been presented every year for the last 7 years, bringing together some of the youngest and brightest law students from universities all around the globe to debate burning contemporary human rights issues on the basis of a common UN human rights system, influenced by national and regional perspectives and experiences. The Competition is unique in reaching a broad base of participants, including from those parts of the world where regional human rights systems have not been established, or have only been recently introduced.

In 2015, the World Moot brought together the following participants:

I. Africa
1. Kenya: Mount Kenya University
2. Lesotho: National University of Lesotho
3. South Africa: University of the Witswatersrand

 

 


 
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Research examines SA legislation on the rights of persons with disabilities

The Disability Rights Unit (DRU) in the University of Pretoria (UP)’s Centre for Human Rights (CHR)  was commissioned by the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR), in partnership with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ and CD) under its Socio-Economic Justice for All (SEJA) programme, to embark on a research project to compile a gap-analysis report to be submitted to the those two bodies (FHR, DoJ). The findings of this study were presented to the FHR and about 30 government bodies at a conference centre in Muldersdrift, Gauteng on 16 November 2015. The research findings will also be published in a special edition of De Jure in 2016.

The DRU undertook the project in collaboration with the Centre for Child Law and the Department of Public Law in UP’s Faculty of Law. Faculty members who participated in the research were Dr Ilze Grobbelaar-du Plessis, Prof Van Erke, Dr Philip Stevens, Prof Anton Kok, Prof Ann Skelton, Ms Zita Hasungule, Prof Christo Botha, Ms Innocentia Mgijima, Prof Bernard Bekink, Mr Jehoshaphat Njau, Prof Birgit Kuschke, Prof Annelize Nienaber, Prof Magdaleen Swanepoel, Prof Serges Kamga and Prof Charles Ngwenya.

 

 


 
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Programme: Conference on the Impact of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa

The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria is hosting a conference on Soft Law and Human
Rights: The Impact of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa.

VENUE: SENATE HALL, UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA

The conference will have in attendance academics, practitioners, activists, advocates, civil society organisations, lawyers, and policymakers working on access to information and other closely related fields, from across the continent.

In particular individuals and organisations that have collaborated with the Special Rapporteur under  her on-going project on the ‘implementation’ of the Model Law and all others with first-hand knowledge of the impact of the Model Law in any Member State or on the development, adoption, review or implementation of legal frameworks on ATI and other relevant soft law standards will participate.

Date: 9 December 2015
Time: 08:30 to 16:00
Venue: Senate Hall, Hatfield Campus,
University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

RSVP: Kindly confirm your attendance at the conference no later than Thursday 2 December 2015, via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Enquiries: Ms Lola Shyllon (012 420 4199 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
GPS: 25°45'19.7"S 28°13'33.2"E

No registration fee is charged but pre-registration via RSVP is compulsory.

 

 


 
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The HRDA Chronicles #1: Melanie Smuts (Streetlight Schools)

The LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA) is the flagship Masters Programme at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. Since 2000, the programme has trained some of the best minds in Africa who have gone on to create change in different parts of the world.

These human rights experts that now make up the HRDA Alumni Association have through their relentless efforts demonstrated unwavering commitment to the values of human rights. Some have indeed laid down their lives in the defence of the rights of others.

It is in recognition of the outstanding work being done by these heroes of the human rights system that the HRDA Chronicles has been initiated to spotlight what members of the Alumni are doing to make the world a better place.

HRDA Chronicles is a video series produced by the Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA) Alumni Association at the Centre for Human Rights, based at the University of Pretoria.

This series aims to celebrate the work of the members of the HRDA Alumni Association and to encourage other human rights defenders across the globe as they brave the odds to realise the promises of several human rights covenants.

 

 



Melanie Smuts (Streetlight Schools)
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Conference on children and youth with disabilities in Africa: ‘Overcoming obstacles: Towards the effective implementation of the rights of children and youth with disabilities in Africa’

On 3-4 November 2015, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, hosted an academic conference on disability rights with a focus on the effective implementation of the rights of children and youth with disabilities in Africa.

Thirty one papers were delivered at the conference, on a diverse range of issues including the right to education, the right to work and employment, political participation and empowerment, right to legal capacity, access to healthcare and other services, sexuality, sexual and reproductive health of youth with disabilities, freedom from violence and abuse and access to justice.

The conference drew participants from at least fifteen countries and there were over eighty participants. Participants included persons with disabilities, their families, academics, civil society groups as well as advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, policy makers and others. Conference presenters were drawn from diverse backgrounds including academics, practitioners, advocates and policy makers from around the world.

 

 


 
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Disability Mainstreaming for Senior Government Officials of the AU Member States
The Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with Africa Disability Alliance conducted a five day training course on disability mainstreaming and implementation of the Continental Plan of Action on the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2010-2019) for senior government officials of the African Union Member States. The course which took place at Protea Manor Hotel Pretoria from the 9th to 13th of November was intended to sensitise and equip Senior Government officials of African Union Member States with relevant knowledge required to effectively mainstream and implement the strategic thematic areas of the of the Continental Plan of Action on the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2010-2019) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into policies, development programmes and service delivery activities.

The training was initiated by the African Union Commission (AUC) Department of Social Affairs (DSA) in recognition of the lack of awareness on how to mainstream disability among policy and decision makers in member states and made possible by the generous support of GIZ and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland.

Senior government officials responsible for disability mainstreaming from Angola, Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Sahrawi Arab, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia attended the training and undertook to strengthen and build the capacity of their countries’ disability focal points in mainstreaming disability on their return.

 

 


 
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Invitation: Master’s in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa Class of 2015 Graduation Ceremony
The Centre for Human Rights cordially invites you to the Master’s in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa Class of 2015 Graduation Ceremony.

During an intensive one-year course, students on this programme are taught by eminent lecturers in the field of human rights and gain invaluable practical exposure. It is the only course of its kind in Africa.

Date: 10 December 2015
Time: 14:00
Venue: Aula, Hatfield Campus, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
RSVP: Kindly confirm your attendance by Wednesday 3 December 2015 by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Enquiries: Ms Carole Viljoen
(012 420 3810 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Refreshments will follow immediately after the ceremony.


 

 

 


 
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Statement by the Centre for Human Rights at the 57th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The Centre warmly congratulates the Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) for having been entrusted with the responsibility of comprising the Bureau of the Commission’s next term, and the new members if the Commission, with their election.  The Centre commits itself to and looks forward to continue working with the Commission in the exercise of its mandate. 
 
As the Commission continues its programme of work on this bright sunny Gambian day, we should not lose sight of the dark cloud that hangs over it and threatens to diminish its capacity to pursue its mandate of protecting the rights of all the citizens of the State Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). 
 
This cloud takes the form, as we all know by now, of the Executive Council’s decision, in June this year, exerting political pressure on the Commission to reverse its decision to grant observer status to an African NGO, and to revise its Guidelines for granting observer status to NGOs. I implore us to leave aside the specifics of the particular NGO, the Coalition for African Lesbians, and approach the matter as one inviting broader considerations of principle, and that we look objectively at the implications of acceding to the Council’s request. 
 

 

 


 
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Dr Solomon Dersso inaugurated as a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

One of the alumni of the Centre for Human Rights, dr Solomon Dersso, was inaugurated as a member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights at its current session, in Banjul, The Gambia. The eleven-member Commission is the African Union's primary human rights body. Dr Dersso is on the right front of the photo, together with Professors Christof Heyns (previous Centre director) and Frans Viljoen (current Centre director), and other Centre alumni attending the session. 

 

 


 

 

 
24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, University of Zambia, Lusaka 5-10 October 2015 Report

The African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the largest gathering of students, academics and judges around the theme of human rights in Africa. This annual event brings together all law faculties in Africa, whose top students argue a hypothetical human rights case as if they were before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Competition aims to prepare a new generation of lawyers to argue cases of alleged human rights violations before the African Court. Since its creation in 1992, the Moot Court Competition has brought together 142 universities from 49 African countries, and spawning the establishment of the leading programmes in the field of human rights teaching and research in Africa. In 2015, the 24th edition of the Moot Court Competition was co-organised by and hosted at the School of Law, University of Zambia, bringing together 183 participants in 61 teams from 20 African countries. In 2015, the themes explored at the Moot Competition include business and human rights, academic freedom, freedom of expression, child marriage and the rights of sexual minorities in Africa. One of the highlights of this year’s Moot was the presence of independence President Kenneth Kaunda who, at 91, breathed life and spirit into the passion and commitment of the future African human rights advocates.

 

 

 


 
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Human Rights Conference -The Intersection of Mental Health and Human Rights in South Africa

Access to healthcare, and the equal treatment of people with mental illnesses is one of the most under-explored areas of contemporary human rights and public health theory and practice. The South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law (a Centre of the University of Johannesburg) invites you to an inter-disciplinary conference that will address the intersection between mental health and human rights in South Africa. 

Program

Date: 26th November, 2015
Time: 09h00 – 17h30 
Venue: Parktonian Hotel, 120 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Cost: R200 
RSVP: Morgan Buntting at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

 

 


 
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Advisory Opinion to the African Court

The Centre for Human Rights, together with the Coalition of African Lesbians, yesterday 2 November, submitted a request for an Advisory Opinion to the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights. The request, submitted under art 4 of the Court Protocol, asks the Court to clarify the nature of the "consideration" by the African Union's political organs, in particular the Executive Council, of the activity reports of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' rights.  The applicants contend firstly that they have standing to bring the request, in that they are "African organizations recognized by the African Union", and secondly, that the political organs have to uphold the Commission's independence and respect its role as autonomous interpreter of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

Request for an Advisory Opinion

Statement

 

 


 
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Changing the landscape: Core Curriculum on Disability Rights for Undergraduate Law Students in Africa

This ‘Core Curriculum on Disability Rights for Undergraduate Law Students in Africa’ has been developed as part of a broader initiative to foster and strengthen knowledge and awareness about and interest in the rights of persons with disabilities among lawyers in Africa. This initiative, the ‘Disability Rights and Law Schools in Africa Project’ was supported by the Open Society Foundations, initially the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and later complemented by the Higher Education Support Programme (HESP) and the Human Rights Initiative (HRI). For the avoidance of doubt, the curriculum is written with the aim of being delivered to learners undertaking legal studies.

The Law Schools Project comprises support to a network of selected universities, particularly in Africa, with the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, playing a coordinating role. These faculties are:

  • Chancellor College, University of Malawi
  • Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique
  • Makerere University, Uganda
  • Midlands State University, Zimbabwe
  • University of Botswana
  • University of Dodoma, Tanzania
  • University of Nairobi, Kenya
  • University of Namibia
  • University of Zambia

 

 


 
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Programme: Disability Rights in Africa (2 - 6 November 2015)
The Disability Rights Unit at the Centre for Human Rights will be hosting the following activities on disability rights in Africa from 2 - 6 November 2015 at the University of Pretoria:

Programme

 

 


 
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The Annual Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture - 15 October 2015

In Uganda, approximately 16 women die each day during child birth. Helen Kanzira, a pioneer alumna of the Centre for Human Rights' Master's programme on Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa became one of those women in 2007 when she passed away shortly after childbirth.

The Centre for Human Rights instituted an annual lecture in her memory to give prominence to maternal health issues not only in Africa but to also underscore the maternal health crisis across the world where 830 women die daily from preventable child birth complications.

Since its inception in 2008 the lecture has had the likes of Ms Mary Robinson and Ms Navi Pillay - both former UN High Commissioners for Human Rights - deliver the Keynote Address and this year, Dr Olive Sentumbwe-Mugisa, a renowned obstetrician and gynecologist, presented the keynote address.

 

 


 
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Press statement: Asia & Africa National Action Plans Update to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights

The Centre for Human Rights formed part of a coalition, led by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) and the Singapore Management University (SMU), that hosted a consultation on the development of national action plans for business and human rights.

The consultation brought together civil society and policy makers from across the African continent, and formed part of an attempt to collect some global south perspectives on the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

The findings of the consultation has been submitted to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights for their consideration, with the intention to inform the Implementation Guiding Document developed by the same Working Group.

For further information, please see the following press statement.

 

 


 
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Invitation: Conference on the rights of children and youth with disabilities in Africa

The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a conference on the effective implementation of the rights of children and youth with disabilities in Africa.

The Conference is on the theme ‘Overcoming obstacles: Towards the effective implementation of the rights of children and youth with disabilities in Africa’ and will be presented by scholars, practitioners and disability activists from all over the world, but particularly from Africa.

Date: 3 and 4 November 2015
Time: 09:00 to 17:00
Venue: Auditorium, Plant Sciences Building, Hatfield Campus, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

RSVP: Kindly confirm your attendance by Thursday 29 October 2015 by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Enquiries: Ms Carole Viljoen (012 420 3810 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
GPS: 25°45’19.3”S 28°14’07.7”E

No registration fee is charged but pre-registration via RSVP is compulsory.

 

 


 
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Press statement: Centre for Human Rights calls for more reflection on ICC withdrawal

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 ANC, through its spokespersons, contends that leaving the ICC does not amount to lowering the human rights flag.  Unfortunately, in our view, it does. Massive scale human rights violations, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, can only be curbed by ensuring effective accountability at both the domestic and international levels. The ICC Statute calls for criminal prosecution of these crimes within states’ domestic systems.  Only when states are unable or unwilling to prosecute these crimes, does the ICC step in.  These principles have been accepted by South Africa, and have been made part of our law, through the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002. Leaving the ICC and undoing this national law would significantly weaken the framework to hold accountable those responsible for massive human rights violations.

 

 


 
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Invitation: Annual Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture (Kampala, Uganda)

The school of Law, Makerere University and the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invite you to the Annual Helen Kanzira Memorial Lecture.

The public lecture held in memory of Helen Kanzira will be on the topic “Exploring Uganda’s performance on the MDG’s in the area of Maternal Health: achievements and challenges?”. This lecture will be presented by Dr Olive Sentumbwe–Mugisa, the Family Health and Population desk officer at the World Health Organization (WHO) Uganda regional office.

Panelists

  • Prof Ben Twinomugisha
    School of Law, Makerere University
  • Hon Irene Odida-Ovunji
    CEO, FIDA (Uganda Association of Women Lawyers)
  • Mr Moses Mulumba
    Executive Director, Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD)

 

 


 
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The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa undertakes advocacy mission to Kenya

The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, undertook an advocacy visit to the Republic of Kenya from 25 to 28 August 2015. 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). This is bearing in mind the on-going consideration by the National Assembly of the Private Members Access to Information Bill introduced by Honourable Priscilla Nyokabi. The Special Rapporteur was accompanied during this visit by 3 expert members of the Working Group that developed the Model Law.

During her mission, the Special Rapporteur met with the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Telecommunications, Dr Fred Matiang’i, the Attorney General, Prof Githu Mugai, and the Solicitor General, Mr Njee Muturi. Within the judiciary, the Special Rapporteur met with the Deputy Chief Justice, Justice Kalpana Rawal and the Director of the Judiciary Training Institute, Justice Joel Ngugi. The delegation also met the Chair and members of the Senate Committee on Information and Technology as well as the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. Other government institutions visited are the Constitution Implementation Commission, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Administrative Justice and the National Gender and Equality Commission. The delegation also met with Media Owners Association and the Editor’s Guild.

 

 


 
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Post-doctoral fellow publishes book on asylum-seeker and refugee protection in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Centre for Human Rights congratulates Dr Cristiano d'Orsi,  post-doctoral fellow based at the Centre, on the publication of his book on asylum seeker and refugee protection in Sub-Saharan Africa. This book forms part of Routledge's Research Series on Asylum, Migration and Refugee Law.

Publication details

Title: Asylum-Seeker and Refugee Protection in Sub-Saharan Africa
The Peregrination of a Persecuted Human Being in Search of a Safe Haven
Author: Cristiano d'Orsi
Publisher: Routledge 2016
Link: https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138025424

About the publication

It is not often acknowledged that the great majority of African refugee movement happens within Africa rather than from Africa to the West.

 

 


 
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Centre presents advanced human rights course on Indigenous Peoples' Rights

In 2007 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights’ of Indigenous Peoples. This document brought to an end many years of contentious negotiations over the rights of native people to protect their lands and resources, and to maintain their unique cultures and traditions. Despite the progress achieved by this Declaration, indigenous people still continue to face marginalization, poverty and other human rights violations. They are often dragged into land disputes that threaten their way of life and livelihood; and suffer from a lack of education and health care.   

The advanced human rights short course on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Africa was presented by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. The course ran from 7 - 11 September 2015 attracting participants and facilitators from across the world, and in particular the indigenous people of Khoi San in South Africa (represented by the Paramount Chief! Kora Hennie van Wyk) and the Bororo people of Cameroon (represented by Ms Adija Adamu).

 

 


 
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Short course on the Right to Development in Africa

The right to development was first recognised in 1981 in Article 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In 1986 the United Nations proclaimed the Declaration on the Right to Development and was adopted by the UN General Assembly. The Declarations states that every person and all peoples have the inalienable universal right to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realised.

This important instrument has generated all kinds of problematic assumptions and interpretations, and there are doubts around the meaning and existence of these rights.

The Centre for Human Rights in collaboration with the General Representation of the Government of Flanders hosted this year’s edition of the Advanced Human Rights Course on the ‘The Right to Development in Africa.’

The course was presented from 24 to 28 August 2015, drawing over 30 participants from across Africa and the rest of the world. Seasoned experts in development thinking, both from Africa and Europe, provided in-depth presentations and engaged participants on the ‘controversial’ issues around the subject of the ‘Right to Development.’

 

 


 
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Call for Papers: Soft law and human rights: The Impact of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa

The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites papers for a conference on the Impact of the Model Law on Access to Information for Africa.

Introduction

The Centre for Human Rights will on 9 December 2015, host a conference on the impact of the Model Law on Access to information for Africa (Model Law) and other similar soft law, on the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. Specifically, this conference will explore the influence of the Model Law on the development, adoption and review of access to information laws in Africa, their effective implementation, and broader influence of soft law within the African human rights system. The Model Law was adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) in February 2013, following a two and a half year-long process coordinated by the Centre for Human Rights.

 

 


 
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Call for Applications: Disability Rights Scholarship Programme

About the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme

The Disability Rights Scholarship Programme offers awards to individuals from China, Tunisia, and selected other countries in Africa and Latin America for a one-year Master of Laws (LLM) or a 1.5-year Master’s in Education degree.

The programme’s objective is to provide disability rights advocates and lawyers with the necessary expertise to develop new legislation, jurisprudence, policy, research, and scholarship to harness the innovations and opportunities offered by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD, which entered into force in May 2008, presents a paradigm shift in the field of disability rights and provides a framework for promoting the inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities in their communities.

With the knowledge and networks gained through the programme, we expect that Fellows will deepen their understanding of international law with a focus on disability rights, and gain the tools necessary to engage in a range of CRPD implementation strategies, such as: challenging rights violations in their home countries by drafting enforceable legislation consistent with the CRPD; utilizing enforcement mechanisms set forth in the Convention; taking forward disability rights litigation requesting CRPD-compliant remedies; engaging in disability rights advocacy; and developing law, education, or other academic curricula informed by the CRPD.

 

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TILSS: Developments in Global Trade and Implications for Africa

The International Development Law Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a seminar series titled “Trade & Investment Law Seminar Series (TILSS)".

This seminar is on the topic ‘Developments in Global Trade and Implications for Africa’ with Ms Grant Makokera as the Guest Speaker.

Guest Speaker:

Ms Grant Makokera was a diplomat for New Zealand for over 10 years and was posted to New York, Geneva and Pretoria. Ms Grant Makokera joined Business Unity South Africa in April 2007 as Executive Director: Trade Policy. Her portfolio at BUSA included trade policy and negotiations, trade and investment promotion, and international relations. She was the Secretary of the SADC Employers Group until 2010. Ms Grant Makokera was also the Programme Head for Economic Diplomacy at the South African Institute of International Affairs from 2010 to 2014. She is now a Senior Associate at Tutwa Consulting.

 

 


 
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New PULP publication:Human rights and democratic governance in Kenya: A post-2007 appraisal

The publication 'Human rights and democratic governance in Kenya: A post-2007 appraisal' (edited by Morris Kiwinda Mbondenyi, Evelyne Owiye Asaala, Tom Kabau and Attiya Waris and published by the Pretoria University Law Press) is now available online.

This publication is a collection of essays on human rights and democratic governance in Kenya in the period after the 2007 post-elections violence.

After surviving the trauma of electoral violence, the country soon embarked on a journey towards reconstruction by engaging in, among other things, intense re-evaluation of the then existing system of laws and institutions. In the process, the daunting task has been to reverse the flawed systems that have been in existence for many decades and in their place entrench systems that would promote and respect democratic governance and human rights. This publication, therefore, documents the extent of the country’s reconstruction since 2007, and makes recommendations for the way forward for the recovery of the state.

 

 


 
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TILSS: China’s Yuan devaluation and its implications for global trading system and Africa in particular

The International Development Law Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a seminar series titled “Trade & Investment Law Seminar Series (TILSS)".

This seminar is on the topic 'China’s Yuan devaluation and its implications for global trading system and Africa in particular’ with Dr Moses Obinyeluaku (ITAC) as the Guest Speaker.

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Moses Obinyeluaku currently holds the position of Chief Economist at the International Trade Administrative Commission of South Africa (ITAC). A graduate of BSc Economics degree with specialization in macroeconomics, international trade, development economics and econometrics in 1998, Dr. Obinyeluaku completed his MCom Economics degree with specialization in macroeconomics and policy, international trade and econometrics before his appointment as lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2005. Developing a strong interest in regional economic integration in Africa, Obinyeluaku studied for his PhD at the University of Cape Town while employed by the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury as Deputy Director: macroeconomic analysis. He successfully completed the PhD degree in 2010 and received various awards for his academic excellence and research. In 2012, he joined ITAC from the National Treasury, where he had been working since September 2008 after being promoted from the KZN Provincial Treasury. His past work experiences indicate that engaging in innovative economic policy research is what makes him an asset.

 

 


 
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Public consultation on a draft General Comment on Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (right to life)

At its July 2014 meeting in Cotonou, Benin, the Working Group on Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa (the Working Group) of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) decided to develop a General Comment on Article 4 (the right to life) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter). It decided to engage a wide range of experts including the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

In June 2015, the Working Group held a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, where it agreed a draft text on the General Comment on Article 4 was now ready to be opened for public consultations. This draft can be found (in English and French) below.

In September 2015, the Working Group will meet again with a wide range of international experts convened in Geneva, Switzerland. Before that meeting, the Working Group invites written comments from any interested parties, including any of those who made contributions to earlier stages of the drafting process.

 

 


 
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Invitation to Seminar Series: Trade And Investment Law Seminar Series [TILSS]

The International Development Law Unit at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a seminar series titled “Trade & Investment Law Seminar Series (TILSS)

This seminar is on the topic “Financing human rights and the SDGs: Assessing recent UN negotiations” with Mr Aldo Caliari as the Guest Speaker.

Guest Speaker:
Aldo Caliari has been, since 2000, staff and, since 2002, Director of the Rethinking Bretton Woods Project at the Washington DC-based Center of Concern. In those capacities he focused on global economic governance, debt, international financial architecture, human rights in international economic policy and linkages between trade and finance. Mr Caliari holds a Master of International Policy and Practice from George Washington University (2007), with a focus on economics and finance. He also holds a Master’s Degree from the Washington College of Law, American University, on International Legal Studies (2000), where he was honored with the Outstanding Graduate Award. He earned his first degree in Argentina, at the Universidad Nacional de Tucuman.

 

 


 
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Central Africa consultation on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights, Lubumbashi, DRC

The Centre for Human Rights, in support of the African Commission Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment, and Human Rights recently hosted a consultation in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which focused on the impact of extractive industries on human rights and the environment in Central Africa.

The consultation brought together a range of stakeholders working in the field of extractive industries in the Central Africa sub-region, with a strong representation from the DRC. The consultation took place over the course of three days (13 – 15 July 2015), and included presentations from the participants on issues that included environmental impacts of the extractive industries, community engagement and participation, development and human rights, and the different roles and responsibilities of state and non-state actors.

The Central Africa consultation was the third sub-regional consultation in a series of five sub-regional consultations, that hopes to cover all the sub-regions in Africa. The first consultation focused on Southern Africa, and took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the second that focused on East Africa took place in Nairobi, Kenya. The findings and submissions from these consultations will be captured in a report that elaborates on the findings of all the different sub-regional consultations.

 

 


 
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World-renowned experts teach on the Children's Rights in Africa course

The week-long advanced human rights short course on Children’s Rights in Africa, was presented by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria from 27 - 31 July 2015.  This year’s edition drew participants from diverse backgrounds and sectors: civil society, academia, legal practitioners, and other organisations which focus on the rights and welfare of the child.

The participants were engaged on a wide range of subjects on the rights and welfare of the child and benefitted from the rich experience and expertise of seasoned facilitators in the field of children’s rights.

Facilitators on the programme included:
  • Prof Ann Skelton
    Director Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria & UNESCO Chair in Education
    Topic: The right to education.
  • Prof Benyam Dawit Mezmur
    Chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the rights of the child and First Vice Chairperson of the African Committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the child
    Topic: United Nations and African treaty bodies with children’s rights mandate.
  • Ms Karabo Ngidi
    Attorney, Centre for Child Law, University of Pretoria
    Topic: The use of United Nations and African Union treaties on children in domestic courts in Africa.
  • Dr Remember Miamingi
    The Pan-African Centre for the study and support of family, Pretoria
    Topic: Realising children’s rights in an African family setting.
  • Prof Julia Sloth-Nielson
    Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape & Vice Chairperson of the African Committee of experts on the rights and welfare of the child
    Topic: United Nations children’s rights framework.

 

 


 
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Handbook for Judges on human rights and abortion laws by Prof Charles Ngwena

This handbook, authored by Charles Ngwena and published by the Ipas Africa Alliance, is designed to raise judges’ awareness about the human rights obligations associated with abortion. Judges can use it as a guide to interpret and apply domestic abortion laws, taking into account global and regional human rights standards.

Charles Ngwena LLD, Barrister-at-Law, is a Professor of Law at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

He coordinates the LLM/MPhil on Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Africa, and has published widely on issues at the intersection between human rights and health care, including HIV/AIDS and reproductive and sexual health.

Prof Ngwnea is also a disability rights specialist. He is  the convening editor of the African Disability Rights Yearbook, which publishes peer-reviewed contributions dealing with the rights of persons with disabilities and related topics, with specific relevance to Africa, Africans and scholars of Africa.

 

 


 
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Short course on Police Oversight and Accountability

Globally, the police as an institution of the State is saddled with the all-important duty of protecting the lives and property of members of the community. They are granted ‘wide powers’ by the State with a view to assisting them in the discharge of their responsibilities. However, the powers and discretion of the police is subject to regulatory mechanisms and oversight, and therefore not to be exercised arbitrarily.

It is in light of the above that the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) presented the 2015 edition of the advanced short course on ‘Police Oversight and Accountability.’

The one-week intensive course ran from 13 to 17 July, and brought togethers participants such as police officers, representatives of human rights institutions, academics and facilitators from around the world.

The participants were engaged and provided with up-to-date information and practical insights on the subject of policing and accountability by seasoned experts in this field.

 

 


 
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Capacity Building Workshop on Tobacco Control

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) in conjunction with the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) at the University of Pretoria is presenting a two-day Capacity Building Workshop on Tobacco Control.

Date: 27 - 28 July 2015
Venue: Auditorium, Plant Sciences Complex, University of Pretoria, Lynnwood Cnr Roper Street, Hatfield, Pretoria

About the Workshop

The workshop is the brain-childof the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), one of the partner organizations coordinating activities under the Bloomberg initiative, launched by Michael R. Bloomberg to combat tobacco use in low- and middle-income countries.  The trend now is that the tobacco industry is using every tool at its disposal to delay, weaken and prevent global tobacco control policies to protect the industry’s pecuniary interests and profits. Increasingly too, the industry is resorting to international trade and investment law regimes to frustrate tobacco control. It against this backdrop that the CTFK, as part of its on-going work to counter this industry action, is partnering with CHR to bring together a group of trade and investment law specialists in Africa for a workshop focussing on the intersection between tobacco control policies and trade and investment law regimes.

 

 



 
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Call for Papers: 'Children, not wives: Ending the scourge of child marriage in Africa'

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the School of Law, University of Zambia, are pleased to announce a one-day conference on child marriage in Africa and hereby invite proposals for papers. The conference will be held as part of the 24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition.

BACKGROUND AND AIM OF THE CONFERENCE
The School of Law, University of Zambia, in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, are hosting the 24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Lusaka, Zambia from 5 to 10 October 2015. Over the past 23 years, 1071 teams from 141 universities representing 49 African countries have participated in this event, making it the largest and most far-reaching human rights educational initiative in Africa.

The one-week Moot Competition includes a one-day international human rights conference, this year on the theme ‘Children, not wives: Ending the scourge of child marriage in Africa’.

 

 


 
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Swaziland court orders Centre alumnus and magazine editor to be released with immediate effect

The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria welcomes the Swaziland Supreme Court’s order to immediately release human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and magazine editor Bheki Mkhubu. This order comes after the Court upheld an appeal brought by Mr Maseko and Mr Makhubu against their conviction on two charges of contempt of court and two year prison sentences.

Mr Maseko, a 2005 alumnus of the Centre for Human Rights and the 2011 laureate of the Centre’s Vera Chirwa Award for human rights activism, and Mr Makhubu, the editor of the The Nation magazine, were convicted following their public criticism of Swaziland’s Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi. Their imprisonment was an attempt to stifle free speech and criticism of the judiciary in Swaziland, an undemocratic country where the rule of law has largely been replaced by royal rule.

During the proceedings the Directorate of Public Prosecutions did not oppose the appeal as it is believed that the conviction was unsupportable and that Judge Mpendulo Simelane, who presided over their criminal trial in the High Court, should have recused himself. Judge Simleane has subsequently been charged with corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

 

 


 
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Two alumni from the Centre for Human Rights elected to two African Union institutions

The Centre for Human Rights is pleased to announce the recent election of two alumni of its LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa programme to two African Union institutions.

Dr Solomon Dersso

Dr Solomon Dersso (Ethiopia, class of 2003) was elected as Commissioner of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, a quasi-judicial body which works to promote and protect human rights in Africa, interpret the African Charter and consider individual complaints of violations of the Charter. Dr Dersso obtained a Ph.D in Law from the University of Witwatersrand in 2009. One of the major areas of his research interest is constitutional design and institutional and policy mechanisms for accommodation of ethno-cultural diversity in Africa. He has served as the Legal Adviser to the AU High Implementation (Mbeki) Panel (AUHIP) Team of Experts on the Boundary dispute between Sudan and South Sudan. He is currently Head of the Peace and Security Council Report at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Prof Benyam Mezmur

Prof Benyam Mezmur (Ethiopia, class of 2005) was re-elected into the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, a team of child rights experts mandated with ensuring states’ compliance with the African Children's Charter and guarantee the best interests of the African Child. Prof Mezmur obtained a PhD in Law from the University of the Western Cape. He is currently Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape and Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Members of the African Commission and the African Committee of Experts serve in their individual capacities. These elections are therefore an attestation to their exceptional academic and professional achievements, and recognition of their ability to contribute to the African human rights project.

Dr Dersso and Prof Mezmur are among over 400 alumni of the LLM/MPhil programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, a fast-growing group whose members are highly qualified and well experienced human rights experts. Since 2000, their academic and professional achievements, personal commitment and integrity are cumulatively working to create and maintain a culture of human rights, development and peace in Africa and – from elsewhere – for Africa.

 

 


Dr Solomon Dersso


Prof Benyam Mezmur
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Centre for Human Rights welcomes reports on human rights situation in Eritrea

24 June 2015: Eritrea has been high on the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Council during its 29th Session, which is currently on-going in Geneva, Switzerland, with the release of two important reports, namely those of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea and the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Eritrea.

“It is indeed high time that the international community accords intensified scrutiny to the human rights situation in Eritrea, with 5 000 fleeing the country on a monthly basis because of violations of their basic rights”, said Prof Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, emphasized that Eritrea and the international community should nurture a long-term human rights perspective in the country. She provided an update on the situation of human rights in Eritrea on 24 June 2015, during the 29th Session of the Human Rights Council. She called on the Eritrean Government and the international community to bear in mind that trading human rights for short-term political or economic gains would undermine the long-term enjoyment of all human rights by all in Eritrea.

 

 


 
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Invitation to attend oral defence

Oral Defence: Ms Romola Adeola

You are invited to the oral defence of the doctoral thesis by Ms Romola Adeola.

Date: Friday 26 June 2015
Time: 12:00 - 13:00
Venue: Law 1-48, Faculty of Law, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
 
Members of the public are invited to attend.
 
The topic of her dissertation is:
"Development-induced displacement in Africa: Striking a balance between the imperative of development and the rights of persons likely to be displaced"
 
Supervisor:
Prof Frans Viljoen
 

 

 


 
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ICC: Sad lesson of lofty ideals trumped by reality repeats itself

by Professor Daniel Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

The disappointment at South Africa’s failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to face genocide charges at the International Criminal Court is a sad reflection on the court’s poor record in living up to its lofty ideals. But, the world has seen it all before.

Idealism in global affairs

In August 1928, 15 countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, gathered in Paris to sign a new international agreement. As signatories to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, they agreed to renounce war as an instrument of national policy and committed to using only peaceful means to settle disputes, regardless of their nature or origin.

Such was the enthusiasm for the agreement, which entered into force in 1929, that the original signatories were later joined by another 47 states, including the Soviet Union. Frank B. Kellogg, the prime architect of the treaty, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

 


 
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CHR and ICNL present Civil Society and Law course

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR), University of Pretoria in partnership with the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) presented the advanced short course on Civil Society and Law.

The three-day intensive course was held from 10 – 12 June 2015, with over 45 participants including the current LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) students and representatives of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from across Africa.

The role and benefits of civil society to citizens across the globe cannot be overemphasized. They are fundamental in articulating citizens’ demands and interests especially, where state policies and programmes of its agencies have either failed or neglected to take into account the concerns and needs of minorities and the poor in society. Citizens have been able to enjoy greater benefits from government programmes and policies as a result of organised action and cohesion by CSOs. The organisations have been celebrated for their contribution in advancing coordinated public action on matters of critical national and global concerns, and for protecting and promoting economic development and democracy.

 

 


 
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Symposium on the right of access to information in Seychelles

On 25 and 26 May 2015, the Seychelles Media Commission (SMC) in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, organised a symposium in Victoria, Seychelles. The purpose of the symposium was create an increased understanding of the right of access to information (ATI) amongst stakeholders in Seychelles and also to begin initial discussions on the content of an ATI law for Seychelles. The opening ceremony was attended by His Excellency, President James Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles, Ministers, Members of Parliament, CSOs, journalists and other stakeholders.

On the first day, general discussions were held on the right of access to information, its importance for promoting democracy, good governance and public participation as well as pitfalls to be avoided by Seychelles in the development of its ATI law, by drawing on experiences of other African States. On the second day, more focused discussions were held on the proposed content of the ATI Bill, using the Model Law as a guide.

 

 


 
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Five reasons why South Africa should not withdraw from the International Criminal Court Statute

by Professor Frans Viljoen, Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

The brevity of President Bashir’s visit to South Africa is disproportionate to its consequences.  For one thing, it poses questions about South Africa’s commitment to upholding the rule of law – both on the international and national plane.  But if media reports are correct, the visit may have a much more far-reaching and lasting effect. According to reports, the ANC National Executive Committee has come to the conclusion that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is no longer useful to Africa, and that South Africa should undo its ratification and leave the fold of ICC state parties.

The Centre for Human Rights urges the governing party to reconsider its view on this matter, for the following reasons:

1   Justifiably indicted for crimes against humanity, President Bashir should not dictate our agenda 

The timing of this push makes the conclusion inevitable that this insight has arisen in response to the Bashir debacle. For the ANC, then, this event marks a line in the sand. In the process, Bashir has come to personalize the growing discontent with the ICC’s perceived anti-African bias, and to represent anti-Western sentiment, more generally. This sentiment has been expressed clearly by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, who cast those instituting the legal challenge concerning Bashir in the role of opportunists who “pit African leaders against each other in the name of international law” (Statement, 15 June 2015).

 

 


 
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Call for Papers: Conference on the effective implementation of disability rights in Africa

The Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria invites papers for a conference on disability rights in Africa.

About the Conference

The focus is on the effective implementation of disability rights to overcome barriers faced by children and youth with disabilities in Africa. The conference will be held at the Centre for Human Rights from 3 - 4 November 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference will coincide with the launch of the third issue of the African Disability Rights Yearbook. It is anticipated that papers presented at this conference will be reworked by authors and submitted for consideration for publication in the 2016 issue of African Disability Rights Yearbook.

Background

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) now enjoys at least 70 percent ratification by African States. However, without effective implementation, the obligations imposed on states by the CRPD would remain a distant promise to persons with disabilities in the African region.

 

 


 
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Capacity building workshop on state reporting on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

The Gender Unit of the Centre for Human Rights organised a 2 day workshop on increasing States’ capacity for reporting under the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Women’s Protocol) in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, in Rwanda. The workshop was held on 26 and 27 May 2015 at the Lake Kivu Serena hotel in Rwanda

Twenty two key government and civil society stakeholders involved in the state reporting process in Rwanda attended this workshop.

The main objectives of the workshop were to disseminate and popularise the Guidelines on State Reporting on the Women’s Protocol and to build and strengthen the capacity of the key stakeholders in Rwanda on state reporting under the Women’s Protocol.  Also, to ensure that the Rwandan government complies with its state reporting obligations under the Women’s Protocol.

Presentations were given on the African human rights system and the Women's Rights Protocol. An expert from Rwanda provided an overview of the situation of women’s human rights, highlighted progress and challenges in Rwanda.  A representative from the Ministry of Justice and the head of the State Reporting Unit in Malawi shared experiences of drafting Malawi’s state report on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Women’s Rights Protocol. This presentation was particularly beneficial considering that Malawi is the first country to have followed the guidelines on reporting on Part B on the Women’s Rights Protocol.

 

 


 
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Centre for Human Rights launches a glossary of human rights terms in Tigrinya

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 glossary, published as the Eritrean government is undergoing closer scrutiny by a United Nations-mandated Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea (COIE), represents a timely initiative. Its main objective is familiarization of key human rights terms in the Tigrinya language. The publication is also seen as part of the CHR’s long-standing commitment to advance human rights in Eritrea.

In its most common understanding, a glossary is an alphabetical list of words or terms relating to a specific subject, with additional explanation on the meaning of the words.

 

 


 
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African Children’s Rights Committee finds Uganda conscripted child soldiers in case submitted by Centre for Human Rights students

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.

This case relates to the situation of insurrection and instability that prevailed in Northern Uganda for some twenty years between 1986 and 2006. During this time, the government of Uganda had to deal with the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), including the abduction of thousands of children. The Committee found that in the period 2001 to 2005, children were conscripted into and used in the Ugandan Defence Force. In its decision, the Committee notes that the African Children’s Charter does not allow for the voluntary recruitment of children into the armed forces of a state.

 

 


 
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The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information for Africa undertakes advocacy mission to Malawi

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.

During her mission, the Special Rapporteur met with the Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa, and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Mr Samuel Tembenu. In Parliament, the Special Rapporteur and her delegation met with the Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Richard Msowoya. The delegation also met the Chair and members of the Committee on Media and Communication, as well as the Chairs of several other Committees of Parliament. Other government institutions visited during the mission, are the Malawi National Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Malawi Law Reform Commission.

 

 


 
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Press statement: AU human rights body adopts its second finding in case submitted by Centre for Human Rights

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.)

The African Children’s Rights Committee is an African Union (AU) organ, mandated to monitor state compliance with one of the AU’s major human rights treaties, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter).  To date, 47 of the 54 AU states have accepted this treaty as binding.  Senegal is one of these states.

 

 


 
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Collaboration between two leading nations on Africa Day 2015


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.

The MoU seeks to strengthen capacities at the NHRC through access to training programmes offered by CHR, in particular the Advanced Human Rights Courses (AHRC) and the Master's degree programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa.

This is a partnership, not only between two leading African countries, but between civil society/academia and national human rights institutions/government.

It is underpinned by the idea of a united Africa, drawing on its resources and resourcefulness to find common solutions to its diverse challenges.

 

 


 
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Press statement: Making the African Union more people-centred depends on both the AU and the people of Africa

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.

This year, celebrations of this day have more significance for South Africa than in previous years.

For one thing, they come in the awake of the xenophobic violence targeting in particular non-South African Africans (NSAAs). One antidote to xenophobia against NSAAs is to advance a narrative of our historical dependence, our shared cultural heritage, and our interrelated and closely convergent economic interests. Africa Day presents an opportunity to highlight our solidarity with the rest of the continent, to affirm the importance of an inclusive African identity, allowing us to put into a broader perspective recent assertions of a more narrow black South African nationalism.

 

 


 
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Centre presented short course on socio-economic rights

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.

Participants at this year’s edition included students, legal practitioners, delegates from human rights institutions, and judges from different African countries.

Experts in socio-economic rights thinking, both from Africa and Europe, provided fresh insights and approach to the issues around the subject of ‘Enforcement of Socio-economic Rights in Africa.’

Some of the judicial officers in attendance were:

  • Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe (Mrs) - Ghana
  • Justice Jerry N. Hlophe - Swaziland
  • Justice Benjamin Isingoma Kabiito - Uganda
  • Justice Elizabeth Musoke - Uganda
  • Mathebe Violet Phatshoane (Judge) – South Africa
  • Lepono Joshua Lekale (Judge) – South Africa
  • Eshetis Yadeta Temesgen (Judge) – Ethiopia
  • Justice Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza – Uganda
  • Justice Zak Yacoob (Rtd) – Constitutional Court, South Africa

 

 


 
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United Nations Rapporteur visit to South Africa cancelled

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 United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, has been trying to lead a fact finding mission aimed at investigating the high levels of violence against women in South Africa since 2012. However, on 11 May 2015, she said that because of repeated delays and ignored requests by government, she has had to cancel the visit. Her term as Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women ends in July.

This is troubling and suggests disregard by our government of two important things: (i) the gravity of violence against women in South Africa and (ii) the mechanisms and processes of international law that are designed to protect and promote human rights.

 

 


 
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Africa unite: Say NO to xenophobia in South Africa!

Students of the 2015 LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) class speak out about the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Background to the campaign:

In April 2015 a new wave of xenophobic attacks were launched against foreigners in South Africa.

In 2008 about 62 people were killed as a result of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The Burning Man, one of the victims of the 2008 attacks, became a reference point for demanding justice.

Still, as many as 8 people have died so far in the April 2015 attacks.

Video campaign by:
2015 LLM/Mphil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) students at the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa

 

 


 
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Statement by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, to the 56th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Banjul, The Gambia, 22 April 2015

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).

South Africa: The African Commission should call for accountability for and a comprehensive approach to xenophobic violence in South Africa, and request authorization to conduct and in fact undertake a mission to South Africa

Like all fellow Africans, I am distressed and appalled by the recent outburst of xenophobic violence in South Africa. As a South African, I am saddened and ashamed of the acts of fellow South Africans, perpetrated against fellow Africans. More pertinently, I am concerned about the lack of a comprehensive and systematic approach by the South African government to effectively deal with this issue.

As we all know, this is part of a series of events. Following similar incidents in 2008, the African Commission, at its 43th session in Ezulwini, Swaziland, adopted a resolution condemning the attacks (the Commission condemned “the attacks and violence perpetrated against migrants in various townships in South Africa”) called for accountability of those responsible (the Commission “called on the South African government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the attacks, and to institute further measures to ensure the protection of foreign migrants in South Africa, and their property”) and also urged the South African government to authorize a  visit of the Special Rapporteur on Asylum Seekers and Refugees to visit the country (the Commission “had sought authorization for the Special Rapporteur to conduct a fact finding mission on the situation of migrants in that country”).

 

 


 
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Centre launches report on Eritrea in Gambia and calls for decisive action by African Commission

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.)

It was launched in collaboration, and under the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to information in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission). 

During the launch, which took place immediately following the Opening of the 56th ordinary session of the African Commission, in Banjul, The Gambia, a panel discussed the situation of human rights, and freedom expression specifically, in Eritrea. The panel consisted of: the African Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression Advocate Pansy Tlakula; the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Eritrea; an Björn Tunbäck, from Reporters without Borders.  The Director of the Centre, Frans Viljoen, chaired the panel.

 

 


 
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Launch of a Guide to the General Comments on Article 14 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

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. 

Our hope is that the guide, together with the General Comments, will serve to strengthen advocacy towards and realisation of the health and reproductive rights of all women in Africa.

General Comments are instruments that are used to explain the meaning of certain rights and to clarify what actions states should take in order fully to realise the rights that are contained in a particular treaty. The General Comments being launched next week relate to article 14 of the Maputo Protocol, a regional human rights instrument that seeks to improve the status of all women in Africa. The Maputo Protocol supplements the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and to date it has been ratified by 36 African states.

 

 


 

Two General Comments have been issued on Article 14 to the Maputo Protocol, which relates to women's health and reproductive rights. The first General Comments, which were adopted in 2012, focus on the provisions of article 14 which relate to STI's, HIV and AIDS. The second set of the General Comments on article 14 speak to the specific actions that states should take in order to guarantee the health and reproductive rights of women.

As a supplement to the General Comments on article 14, the Centre for Human Rights, with the generous support of the Sigrid Rausing Trust and Equality Now in collaboration with The Solidarity for African Women's Rights Coalition (SOAWR), prepared a guide which is intended to assist states parties to the Maputo Protocol better to understand the commitments contained in article 14. The guide also aims to support civil society in efforts to hold governments accountable for their obligations contained in article 14.

For more information, please contact:

Katy Hindle
Programme Manager: Gender Unit
Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law
University of Pretoria
Tel: (012) 420 4525
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.chr.up.ac.za

 
Disability Rights and Law Schools Project in Southern Africa Partner’s Meeting

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.

The objective of the meeting was to provide a space for the partners to update each other on ongoing project activities at each partner institution and to plan for the next project cycle while reflecting on sustainability of the project. The meeting included discussions between the partner institutions, Open Society Foundations’ Disability Rights Scholarship Program and the global consortium on disability rights which includes the National University of Ireland, Galway; Cardiff University; University of Leeds; American University, Washington DC; Syracuse University and McGill University. The final day of the meeting featured a workshop on teaching disability rights.

 

 


 
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Centre for Human Rights partners with other leading academic centres to research implementation and compliance with international and regional human rights law

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?

In order to explore this question in more detail, four leading academic human rights centres have come together in a unique partnership, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  These are the Human Rights Implementation Centre at Bristol University; the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex; Middlesex University; and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. The Open Society Justice Initiative, part of the Open Society Foundations, will also serve as a partner organisation for the research, which will bring together policy makers, practitioners, and academics.

 

 


 
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Press statement: Government, ANC should make words matter to combat xenophobia

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.

These incidents take place against the background of highly publicized utterances inflaming animosity, stoking the fires of hatred towards non-South Africans from Africa who find themselves in South Africa. 

In response, the Presidency issued a statement. As too often, however, it smacks of formalism and did little to change the public discourse. For the most part, the voice of the government and the ANC has remained mute on this issue. On a number of occasions, statements from these quarters have even contributed to a climate of hostility towards non-nationals.

It seems important to us that President Zuma, government ministers, and the ANC leadership unequivocally distance themselves from all statements that foment xenophobic violence.  “We need to hear language that makes a difference, words that loudly and clearly counter the toxic discourse that has been allowed to take us down a spiral of violence”, said Prof Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre.

 

 



 
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The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information for Africa undertakes advocacy visit to Mauritius

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.

During her visit, the Special Rapporteur met with several government Ministers such as: Honourable Pravind Jugnauth, Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation; Honourable Fazila Daureeawoo, Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions; Honourable Prithvirajsing Roopun, Minister of Social Integration, Empowerment and Training and Honourable Soodesh Callichurn, Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations, Employment and Training.

 

 


 
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Opening Ceremony for LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) students

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.

In recognition of the pivotal role other professions play in the advancement of democracy and human rights on the continent, the class of 2015 has 6 non-lawyers (including a Police officer) whose presence on the course bring fresh perspectives and interdisciplinary approaches. The diversity of this class is therefore not only reflected in the different nationalities but also in the vast array of backgrounds and expertise.

The event was attended by eminent personalities, from academics to human rights activists, government officials, University of Pretoria staff  and members of the diplomatic corps.

 

 



 
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Short course on the effective implementation of disability rights in Africa

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.

Eighteen lectures were delivered at the 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, constitutional regulation of disability discrimination, regulation of disability in select countries (Ireland, Kenya, Malawi, United States of America and Zimbabwe) and finally applying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to selected areas (including access to justice, accessibility of goods and services, legal capacity, inclusive education, reproductive and sexual health and national implementation and monitoring).

The course drew instructors from eight countries and about fifty participants coming from at least twenty five countries. Participants included policy makers and implementers, civil society groups as well as advocates for disability law reform, lawyers, and students of the LLM on the Human Rights and Democratization in Africa course.

 

 



 
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PULP launches book on sexual and reproductive health rights in Africa
Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) launched its latest publication Strengthening the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the African region through human rights, edited by Charles Ngwena and Ebenezer Durojaye.
 
The proceedings were convened by Prof Anton Kok (Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law) and Prof Charles Ngwena explained more about the book and its contributions.
 
Professor Rebecca Cook (Co-Director, International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme, University of Toronto) was the guest speaker.
 
Contributing authors to the book include: Onyema Afulukwe-Eruchalu; Rebecca Amollo; Ayodele Atsenuwa; Tiffany Banda; Fana Hagos Berhane; Eunice Brookman-Amissah; Ebenezer Durojaye; Lisa Forman; Tinyade Kachika; Godfrey Kangaude; Simangele Mavundla; Charles Ngwena; Susana SáCouto; Karen Stefiszyn; Jaime Todd-Gher; and Christina Zampas.
 

 

 



 
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City of Tshwane Mayor addresses German delegation and students

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 event which attracted several esteemed personalities from within the University of Pretoria community also featured a lecture delivered by the Executive Mayor of the city Tshwane - Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

His lecture focused on the contribution of science and technology to the realization of human rights and emphasized the need for a demand to be placed on science to serve the majority and not just a few elite.

Being a former graduate and current Doctoral candidate of the University of Pretoria, the Mayor was best suited for the lecture, more so because the City of Tshwane over which he presides has been designated by the Gauteng Provincial government as the hub of research and development.

 

 



 
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Human Rights Day 2015 Message from the Vice-Chancellor, University of Pretoria

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.

As disparate as they may all seem, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was borne out of the horror of the Sharpeville Massacre, as the world remembered the atrocity that took place in 1960 when peaceful protesters who were opposed to having their freedom of movement curtailed by having to carry a pass, were shot down. Sixty nine people were killed and 180 more injured. Today, South Africa commemorates Human Rights Day.

There are still global challenges of inclusion and human rights, as epitomised by World Down’s Syndrome Day, but it is up to each of us to see every person as a valuable, human life regardless of their being different from us.

 

 



 
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Invitation: Welcoming Ceremony to welcome the 2015 students on the Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa

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.

Keynote Speaker:
Adv Mabedle Lourence Mushwana Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)

Date 8 April 2015
Time 15:30
Venue Quadrangle, Faculty of Law Building, Hatfield Campus, UP
RSVP This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by 1 April 2015
Enquiries Eric Lwanga, 012 420 5214
GPS 25°45’14.3”S 28°14’02.8”E
Dress: Traditional / Semi-formal

Dinner will be served after the proceedings.

 

 



 
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Centre hosts renowned scholar on gender stereotyping Rebecca Cook

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 Programme at the University of Toronto in Canada.

Prof Cook will be lecturing on three of the Centre’s Master’s programmes: LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), LLM/MPhil (Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa) and the LLM/MPhil (Multidisciplinary Human Rights). She will also be the keynote speaker at the launch of the new PULP publication ‘Strengthening the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the African region through human rights’ which was edited by Charles Ngwena and Ebenezer Durojaye.

Prof Cook’s lectures will be dealing with gender and women’s health issues, with a special focus on gender stereotyping. Gender stereotyping occurs in different sectors of society and Prof Cook’s research examines gender stereotyping in the education, employment, health and military sectors. She is also interested in the impact of gender stereotyping on women’s access to justice.

 

 



 
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South Sudan: Seventy-six organisations call for publication of AU Inquiry Report as deadline for peace passes

6 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.

In January 2015, AUPSC members decided to defer consideration or publication of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan (AUCISS) report because they thought it would obstruct the achievement of a peace agreement. But as a 5 March deadline for reaching a final agreement has now passed, the organizations renewed calls for the report to be published.

“A culture of impunity has fuelled South Sudan’s conflict and emboldened combatants to target civilians, commit sexual violence, destroy and loot civilian property without fear of legal consequences,” said Arnold Tsunga, Africa Director of the International Commission of Jurists. “The release of the report could help deter further atrocities, by bringing to light what has taken place and making more real the prospect of accountability,”

 

 



 
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Africa consultation on National Action Plans for Business and Human Rights

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 consultation, which took place at the University of Pretoria, was the second of two scheduled consultations that would feed into an implementation guide on NAPs for business and human rights that is currently being developed by the Working Group. The consultation attracted representatives from international organisations, government, national human rights institutions and the business sectors from 8 African countries.

The programme focused on issues around the development process and content of NAPs, and also asked the participants to identify or highlight pertinent issues within their respective countries that should receive attention by a NAP on business and human rights. The participants also discussed the fundamental question, around what the case for NAPs on business and human rights is in Africa, and whether NAPs could potentially address business and human rights concerns on the continent.

 

 



 
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Press release: Centre calls for immediate and independent investigation into the tragic assassination and untimely death of Prof Gilles Cistac, esteemed human rights educator and activist

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.

Gilles Cistac was Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo. Mozambique. This institution is one of 14 partners which, with the Centre for Human Rights, collaboratively present the award-winning Master’s Degree Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa. Prof Cistac was a senior academic, who is highly respected for the excellent quality of his teaching and research. Born and raised in France, Gilles Cistac made Mozambique his home for the past 21 years, and contributed indelibly and generously to nation-building through legal education.

 

 



 
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Invitation: Public Seminar on Competition Policy and Human Rights

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

Date: Thursday 19 March 2015
Time: 13:00 - 17:30
Venue: Human Rights Conference, the Constitution Hill, 11 Kotze Street, Old Fort Building, Braamfontein
RSVP: Kindly confirm your attendance by Friday 13 March 2015 by sending an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Enquiries: Ms Itebogeng Palare (012 394 3189 / This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
GPS: 26°11’23.0”S 28°02’37.9”E

Attendance at this event is free and it will be on a first come first served basis due to space limitation

 

 



 
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Centre for Human Rights Alumni Association presents gift to Thulani Maseko

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.

In the spirit of togetherness, alumni of the Master’s Degree programme channelled contributions to his family through the Centre for Human Rights. Thulani’s wife Tanele received the gift on his behalf and, over lunch with staff of the Centre, raised our hopes and reassured us of his unshakeable commitment to defend – on the ground – the principles which we often only evoke from the safety of the classroom.

This 2011 laureate of the Vera Chirwa Award has distinguished himself inexorably as the quintessential African human rights lawyer. The Centre for Human Rights salutes his courageous and untiring struggle for human rights and democracy in Swaziland, and continues to call for his release and acquittal on all charges.

 

 



 
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Press statement: Speaker should unconditionally apologise for inflammatory remark

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.

We are saddened and alarmed by the use of the term 'cockroach' to dehumanise a political adversary. Let it be clearly stated: Our concern is not about the personalities involved, but about the principle at stake.

The Speaker is not only a prominent public figure. She is also, above all, the symbol of fair play in the primary space for democratic deliberation in our country. According to Parliament’s web page, she is the ‘leader’ of the National Assembly and should ensure that its processes are in accordance with the Constitution. Her remark can therefore not be brushed aside as a thoughtless utterance in the heat of political debate.

The remark can also not in any way be justified as having been made in her capacity as ANC Chairperson. On the contrary, holding this position adds to her profile, and exacerbates the noxious impact of her remark. In any event, when the ANC Chairperson makes remarks related directly to her function as Speaker, she can hardly hide behind the duality of functions. If anything, the controversy highlights the real potential for conflict arising from the same person holding the offices of both ANC Chairperson and Speaker.

 

 



 
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Prof Frans Viljoen addresses Commonwealth parliamentarians at a conference celebrating 800 years of the Magna Carta

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.

Prof Frans Viljoen, the Director of the Centre for Human Rights addressed parliamentarians in a session on the conflicts between protection for human rights and cultural values. Prof Viljoen examined the concept of culture, which he suggested was often used as shorthand for ‘the views of the majority.’ He also emphasised that any claim to ‘cultural override’ of a human right could not stand without a proportionality test, and that such a test must be considered within a human rights framework.

In a once-in a generation occurrence, parliamentarian delegates were then joined by Commonwealth scholars for a hugely impressive exhibition in the House of Lords, having come from the British Library, which reunited the four original copies of Magna Carta for the first time since they were sealed 800 years ago.

 

 



 
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Colloquium on the powers and functions of the Office of the Public Protector

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).

Participants included legal practitioners from across the country, academics and students. The facilitator at the event was Mr Max Boqwana (Co-Chairperson, Law Society of South Africa). The colloquium took place at the Groenkloof Campus of the University of Pretoria where the Faculty of Education is based. Prof Irma Eloff (Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria) and Prof Frans Viljoen (Director, Centre for Human Rights) welcomed the guests.

The colloquium was organised to discuss recent developments around the decisions of the South African Public Protector especially in light of a recent court judgment in which it was held that her decisions are not binding. According to the judgment, the Public Protector’s decisions are recommendations to government departments and officials.

 

 



 
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Zero tolerance for female genital mutilation in Eritrea?

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation: 6 February 2015

February 6 – the 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 [1]. 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.

The most common form of FGM/C in Eritrea is ‘infubulation[2]’. During the procedure, the child’s legs and hips are tied together to limit movement – often for several weeks afterward to allow healing. The age for circumcising of a girl varies amongst cultural groups, but can range from one month old to 15 years. A traditional circumciser commonly performs the act within communities; close relatives or neighbours can also act as circumcisers.

 

 



 
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South Africa must strongly reject xenophobia

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.

The Centre for Human Rights wishes to remind the South African government that it is obligated to respond to this grave situation in line with its international obligations, specifically under the following treaties:
  • African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981.
  • OAU Convention Governing Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, 1969.
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966.
Furthermore, the Centre for Human Rights wishes to remind the South African government and South Africans that the Constitution of our nation recognises human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms as fundamental to the fabric of the nation. Hence, anyone acting contrary to these values is in contravention of the Constitution. These attacks both revive the horrors of apartheid and raise the spectre of targeted killings reminiscent of the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

 

 



 
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Centre hosts Dutch Special Envoy for the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS2015)

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.

Mr Rosenthal, a previous Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, is in the process of conducting consultations across the world, to inform the planning and priorities of the GCCS2015.

The fourth Conference on Cyberspace GCCS2015 has three key objectives: a) to support implementation and practical cooperation, b) to promote capacity building and knowledge exchange in cyberspace and c) to discuss norms for responsible behaviour in cyberspace. In order to achieve these there will be four focus sessions dealing with international security, socio-economic topics, cyber-criminality and freedom and privacy.

In the discussion following a short speech by Mr Rosenthal, attention was brought to specific issues of African countries concerning cyberspace, for example access to the internet, freedom of expression, data security, protection of children online and questions on how to address the use of the internet by terrorists to recruit young people for their cause.

 

 



 
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New PULP publication:Convergence and Conflicts of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in Military Operations

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.

The book explores the implications of the increased interplay between international human rights law (IHRL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) in military operations, sometimes in ways that imply convergence and other times in ways that suggest conflict. These convergences and/ or conflicts are particularly acute in non-international armed conflicts, situations of belligerent occupation and in the area of peace support operations (PSOs). Non-international armed conflicts imply that individuals, including members of organized non-state armed groups and civilians that directly participate in hostilities, are ‘within the jurisdiction’ of the territorial state against whom they are fighting. IHRL and IHL may therefore apply in parallel. In a similar vein, the control exercised by a belligerent occupant regularly entails an exercise of ‘jurisdiction’ and hence triggers the applicability of human rights norms. As far as PSOs are concerned, it becomes increasingly difficult to classify them as taking place in a context of ‘peace’ or ‘armed conflict’. More often than not, the situation implies elements of both.

 

 



 
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East Africa consultation on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights, Nairobi, Kenya
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 East Africa sub-regional consultation involved several panel presentations focusing on the different country contexts, and included views on Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Rwanda. Thematic issues that were discussed over the course of the sub-regional consultation included the role of national human rights institutions in promoting a human rights based approach to extractive industry governance, the accountability of state and non-state actors with regard to corporate human rights abuse, the experiences of human rights defenders working in the field, experiences of affected communities, benefit sharing practices, and the environmental impacts of extractive industries in East Africa.

 

 



 
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The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information for Africa undertakes advocacy visit to Seychelles

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.

During her visit, the Special Rapporteur met with high-level government officials including: His Excellency, President James Michel, president of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr Jean-Paul Adam, Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Justice D. Karunakaran, Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Honourable Dr. Patrick Herminie, Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Rony Govinden, Attorney General, as well as Mr Ibrahim Afif, Chair of the Seychelles Media Commission and other members of the Commission.

The Special Rapporteur and her delegation also held a meeting with civil society organisations, including members of the recently constituted Citizen Engagement Platform of Seychelles (CESP).

 

 



Commissioner Pansy Tlakula (Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa) with His Excellency, President James Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles
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African Human Rights Law Journal: Volume 1 No 2 2014 is now available

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.

This issue of the African Human Rights Law Journal boasts a record number of contributions. This growth testifies to the increasing number of contributions submitted to the Journal and, we would argue, speaks both to its recognition as a respected outlet for scholarship on human rights in Africa, and to the greater visibility the Journal enjoys since becoming fully and freely accessible online.

The contributions appearing in the ‘regular’ part of the Journal span a wide array of thematic areas and approaches, and reflect the diverse nature of contemporary human rights concerns in Africa. Some are philosophical in nature, reflecting on the nature of ‘African values’, such as ubuntu (the article by Metz); and others are more historical in nature, for example, the article by Haskins that traces the link between contemporary homophobia in Africa and Roman law. A number of contributions look at institutional evolutions related to Africa, for example, the UN Universal Periodic Review, and the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the articles by Smith and Naldi respectively).

 

 


 
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University of Zambia to host the 24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition

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 African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the largest annual gathering of students and lecturers of law on the continent and one of the premier events on the African Human Rights calendar. Since it was established in 1992, the Moot Court Competition has been held in 17 different African countries, spreading a unique message of human rights through the instrument of law. For law students, the Moot Court Competition has become the most sought-after meeting place for future human rights professionals. Apart from providing the perfect platform to sharpen their litigating skills, Africa’s youngest and brightest are able to measure themselves against their peers from all over the continent, and forge institutional and personal links that last a lifetime.

 

 


 
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