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Centre News & Events: 2017
Freedom Day 2017: After 23 years, working together is still needed to secure the rights of all South Africans

26 April 2017 - The Centre for Human Rights joins the rest of South Africa to celebrate Freedom Day 2017. On 27 April 1994, there was a major shift in South Africa’s trajectory with the first non-racial post-apartheid election being held in the country. Twenty three years ago, by this symbolic exercise, apartheid and oppression were formally rejected and South Africa resolved to ensure democracy and equality. This Freedom Day milestone was preceded by the struggle, bloodshed, purposefulness, hard work and the resilience of the people of South Africa. However, it is pertinent to note that the celebration of Freedom Day is South Africa’s victory just as much as it is the victory of Africa and the world. In Nelson Mandela’s speech at the 1995 Freedom Day celebration, he stated that Freedom Day marks a ‘transition from a history of oppression to a future of freedom.’ While revelling in our glorious past on a day like today, South Africa’s present and tomorrow are equally to be reflected upon and attended to.

 Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Honourable Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm receiving the Vera Chirwa Award from Her Excellency Mrs Sia Yama Koroma, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone

Freedom Day on 27 April is an annual celebration of South Africa's first non-racial democratic elections of 1994.

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Centre for Human Rights hosts first consultative meeting to discuss Draft Model Law on the rights of intersex persons in Africa

26 April 2017 - On 24 April 2017, the Centre for Human Rights hosted its first consultative meeting on the Model Law on the rights of intersex persons in Africa. The meeting gathered together intersex rights activists in South Africa, coming from the following organisations: Iranti, AIDS Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA), Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Transgender Intersex Africa (TIA) and OUT Well-Being. Also in attendance was John Chigiti from Gender Minorities Action Trust Foundation-Kenya (GMAT), who has represented intersex persons before the Kenyan courts.

The purpose of the meeting was to validate the Draft Model Law on intersex persons, which the Centre for Human Rights is currently drafting for eventual tabling at the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Draft Model Law seeks to prevent unfair discrimination and to protect and promote of the rights of intersex persons in African countries.

 Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Honourable Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm receiving the Vera Chirwa Award from Her Excellency Mrs Sia Yama Koroma, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone

First consultative meeting on the Model Law on the rights of intersex persons in Afric

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Symposium participants call for national land reform dialogue

20 April 2017 - Delegates to a symposium on land, heritage and human rights gathered in Pretoria for an urgent dialogue.

They heard that a human rights approach to land redistribution, grounded in the effective implementation of Section 25 of the 1996 Constitution of South Africa, can still guarantee a life of dignity, equality and freedom for all South Africans. This was the view expressed by Prof. Bongani Majola, Chair of the South African Human Rights Commission. Prof Mathole Motshekga, Chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Justice and Correctional Services, agreed with this sentiment, adding that Parliament has not done enough to effectively make use of the possibilities allowed for under Section 25 of the Constitution, to adopt enabling legislation.

Prof Bongani Majola, the Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission

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Centre for Human Rights presents first advanced human rights course on the 'Right to Life'

20 April 2017 - The right to life is often described as a supreme human right, but it is clearly under pressure worldwide.The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria for the first time hosted its first annual short course on the right to life from 10-13April 2017. The course brought together several participants from across Africa, mainly representing civil society, national human rights institutions, police officers, prosecutors and academia. 

Experts in the field who lectured and participated on panel discussion consisted of: Professor Christof Heyns, Director Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa University of Pretoria and Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Commissioner Solomon Dersso, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights; Commissioner Med Kaggwa, Member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ Working Group on the Death Penalty and Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings in Africa; Dr Thomas Probert, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa; Stuart Maslen, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa; Valentina Cadelo, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; Dr Japhet Biegon, Amnesty International; Sarah Swart, International Committee of the Red Cross; Sylvie van Lammeren, International Committee of the Red Cross; Dr Thompson Chengeta, Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Adebayo Okeowo, Centre for Human Rights. The course is the first of its kind presented by an academic institution in Africa.

 Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Honourable Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm receiving the Vera Chirwa Award from Her Excellency Mrs Sia Yama Koroma, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone

Group photo of participants on the Right to Life course

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Invitation: Symposium on Land, Heritage and Human Rights

13 April 2017 - The Community Law Centre at the Kara Heritage Institute, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (George Campus) and the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a symposium on land, heritage and human rights.

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Centre for Human Rights celebrates the ratification by Parliament of the nomination of Mr Melron Nicol-Wilson Esq. to the position of Ombudsman of the Republic of Sierra Leone

12 April 2017 - Since graduating from the Centre in 1998 with his LLM degree, Mr Melron Nicol-Wilson has been an outstanding ambassador of the Centre's values of excellence and ubuntu, through his work as a human rights defender in Sierra Leone and abroad.

Melron Nicol-Wilson is an alumnus of a unique and distinguished pedigree. He joined the Centre in 1998, with academic distinctions from Fourah Bay College and the Sierra Leone Bar School where finished second in a class of 22. In the course of his LLM studies here, he demonstrated a synthesis of intellectual aptitude, the capacity for rigorous study and an indelible personal commitment to improving the lives of others with the instrument of law.

 Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Honourable Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm receiving the Vera Chirwa Award from Her Excellency Mrs Sia Yama Koroma, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone

Mr Melron Nicol-Wilson Esq (pictured with his wife Ms Makuta Nicol-Wilson), whose nomination to the position of Ombudsman of the Republic of Sierra Leone was ratified by Parliament

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Gender Unit hosts a Regional State Reporting Workshop under the Maputo Protocol

11 April 2017 - “The [Maputo] Protocol stands as a comprehensive instrument that demonstrates the good will of African States to end all forms of violence against women… Notwithstanding that, our role as women has been fraught with challenges and circumstances of vulnerability”. First Lady of Sierra Leone Her Excellency Mrs Sia Yama Koroma, rightly noted as she gave the Keynote address at a state reporting workshop that was hosted by the Gender Unit in Freetown from 22-24 March 2017. She was speaking at the opening ceremony which also saw the awarding of the first Extraordinary Vera Chirwa Award to the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Honourable Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm, an alumnus of the Centre for Human Rights, for his contribution to human rights in Sierra Leone.

 Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Honourable Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm receiving the Vera Chirwa Award from Her Excellency Mrs Sia Yama Koroma, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone

Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Honourable Justice Abdulai Hamid Charm receiving the Vera Chirwa Award from
Her Excellency Mrs Sia Yama Koroma, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone
 
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International Transgender Day of Visibility: The focus on visibility is no longer enough

4 April 2017 - Dr Anastacia Tomson, medical doctor, author and transgender rights activist, weighs in on International Transgender Day of Visbility and states that 'visbility is no longer enough'

I always have mixed feelings over International Transgender Day of Visibility, which is observed annually on 31 March. Do not get me wrong; I am a believer in visibility. I live as visible a life as I can, because I believe in the power of representation, and I believe in spreading understanding and awareness, especially where trans issues are concerned.

But I also recognise that visibility is a privilege. And that visibility does not stop the violence. Trans people continue to be shamed, threatened or hurt. We are thrown out of our homes. We lose our jobs. All too often we lose our lives.

For me to be able to stand up and say “I’m transgender, and I’m out, and that’s ok” reflects the massive chasm between different groups. My visibility can be scary to me sometimes, because it’s a form of exposure or vulnerability. But, even so, my life is probably not at risk. Because of the colour of my skin, because of the job I have, because of the area I live in. Because I have access to medical care, and because I was able to acquire legal documents that accurately reflect my identity.

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Centre's doctoral candidate and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea recognised by University of Leicester

4 April 2017 - Sheila B. Keetharuth wins Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award for human rights work in Africa

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office 27 March 2017

The University of Leicester has recognised the outstanding contribution of one of its alumni to exposing and protecting against human rights abuses worldwide. This year’s winner of the University’s Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award is Sheila B. Keetharuth, in recognition of her human rights work and her determination to provide a voice to the powerless. She was presented with the award at the University’s Alumni Association’s Black Tie Dinner on 16 March before an audience of nearly 500 alumni and guests in the Grand Connaught Rooms in London’s Covent Garden.

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Op-Ed: What is colonialism (to us)? Western Cape Premier reveals a truth by Prof Charles Ngwena

4 April 2017 - Whatever her intentions, the recent public utterance posted on Twitter by Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, reminding the nation of the enormous debt owed to colonialism, has generated public debate. In not so many words, in a nation still healing from a racially bruised past, Zille has been asking black Africans to be complicit in their own historical oppression and show gratitude to a system that was scrupulously built on white supremacy. This sounds incredulous, but perhaps not so once we understand where Zille is coming from – her situated reasoning and vantage point. The utterance shows all too clearly that the terms on which the world is understood, even by persons holding high public office, including in post-apartheid South Africa, are more than porous to self-serving 'regimes of truth'. Every truth has its history, but which is Zille's?

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Justice Dikgang Moseneke calls for ethical and selfless leadership as exemplified by Oliver Tambo

31 March 2017 - “It is not about power, it is about purpose.” In his Keynote Address at the Second Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture, Justice Dikgang Moseneke pre-empted Oliver Tambo’s response to the current leadership challenges that the African continent is facing.

Through his activism over the decades, lawyer, revolutionary and politician, Oliver Reginald Tambo left an indelible impression on South Africa and its new Constitution. In celebration of his legacy, the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria together with the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, hosted the second in a series of Oliver Tambo Centenary Lectures and the welcoming ceremony for the students of the Centre’s four Master’s programmes on Thursday 30 March 2017. The students that were welcomed at the event are studying towards the following degrees: LLM/MPhil in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (HRDA), LLM in International Trade and Investment Law in Africa (TILA), LLM/MPhil in Multidisciplinary Human Rights (Multi) and LLM/MPhil in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa (SRRA).



Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Retired Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa

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Southern Africa Consultation on the Draft Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections for Africa

28 March 2017 - On 14 and 15 March 2017, the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria and the Centre for Human Rights, Eduardo Mondlane University in collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa (Special Rapporteur), Commissioner Pansy Tlakula, organised a consultation on the draft ‘Guidelines on Access to Information and Elections for Africa’ (Draft Guidelines).

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Short Course on Disability Rights highlights need to advance disability rights and to address implementation gap in Africa

24 March 2017 - Reflections by a participant of the Disability Rights in an African Context short course hosted by the Centre for Human Rights from the 13-17 March 2017

As I skimmed through the programme for the short course “Disability Rights in an African context” last week, the varied themes on the agenda conjured up the prospect of five days of enlightening discussions and profound reflection. On Monday, as I made my way to the classroom, several thoughts flashed through my mind: that of my late grandmother’s dread for the wheelchair after she underwent a partial foot amputation, that of the bullying of my autistic friend in primary school and the account of my parent’s agony on learning of my diagnosis of severe clubfoot at birth. During the introductory session, whilst the participants shared their interest in and expectations from the course and invoked disturbing details about disability abuse in their respective countries, the enduring obstacles to furthering disability rights across Africa dawned on me. The dearth of visibility of disability – disability being somewhat shunned in my home country Mauritius - had probably clouded my appreciation of the magnitude of the challenges lying ahead. Professor Ngwena’s words echoed, setting the tone for the week: we should look beyond the letter of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and seek to address the implementation gap in the continent. 

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Invitation: Master's Programmes Welcoming Ceremony and Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture Series | Justice Dikgang Moseneke (30 March 2017)

23 March 2017 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, together with the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation cordially invites you the Centre for Human Rights Master's Programmes Welcoming Ceremony and Oliver Tambo Centenary Lecture Series. The second edition of this series of lectures will be delivered by Justice Dikgang Moseneke, Retired Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa.

On this occasion, the eighty students on the following Master’s programmes of the Centre for Human Rights will be individually introduced:

  • LLM/MPhil (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)
  • LLM (International Trade and Investment Law in Africa)
  • LLM/MPhil (Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa)
  • LLM/MPhil (Multidisciplinary Human Rights)

Event details

Date: 30 March 2017
Time: 15:30 – 20:00
Venue: Tuks Monate, 243 Lunnon Road, Hillcrest, Pretoria
RSVP: PLEASE CLICK HERE TO RSVP ONLINE
RSVP deadline: 24 March 2017
Enquiries: Eric Lwanga ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it / 012 420 5214)
Limited seating is available and guests are encouraged to RSVP well in advance.

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Speak Out for Inclusive Education: Human rights commemoration chill session

17 March 2017 - On March 21 1960, the residents of Sharpeville took to the streets in protest of the oppressive laws the Apartheid government imposed on black people. In terms of these laws black people had to carry passes in order to move around the country.

These laws reinforced the notion that being black was bad and that black people were subhuman. The Government of the time retaliated by opening fire on the crowd leading to the deaths of many people that day, all because they stood  for their human  rights to social inclusion and  freedom of movement. It is their courage that we celebrate on March 21st (Human Rights Day).

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University of Pretoria students speak out on Xenophobia

14 March 2017 - As part of its advocacy efforts against Xenophobia, the Centre for Human Rights randomly approached students at the Hatfield campus of the University of Pretoria to share their thoughts on the recent xenophobic attacks targeted at African foreigners in South Africa. In this video, the students speak about the beauty in diversity and the need for tolerance.

The Centre for Human Rights believes that in addition to educating communities on issues of human diginity and respect for human life, the South African government must also ensure that perpetrators of xenophobic attacks are investigated and prosecuted. This is how we shall put an end to such inhumane acts.
 

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Government should pause to reconsider ICC withdrawal, and Parliament should suspend consideration of ICC Repeal Bill

8 March 2017 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, takes note, with satisfaction, of the South African government’s revocation of its ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ in line with the decision of the North Gauteng High Court of 22 February 2017. In its decision, the High Court found that the deposit of South Africa’s ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ was unconstitutional because Parliament’s approval for withdrawal from the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC Statute) was not sought or obtained. The Court ordered the government to revoke its withdrawal notice, which it has now done.

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Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, calls on South African Government to do more to ensure gender equality in the judiciary

8 March 2017 - In commemorating International Women’s Day with the UN theme focusing on “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, the University of Pretoria, welcomes the nomination of Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya as the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. She has extensive experience having served in the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal, the Labour and the High Court. If Justice Maya’s nomination gets confirmed, she would become South Africa’s first woman President of the Supreme Court of Appeal. This would be ground breaking and a major step in ensuring that women are represented equally in the judiciary and in achieving gender equality.

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Invitation to Tender: Evaluation of grant agreement beteween the Norwegian Government and the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

8 March 2017 - Invitation to Tender: Evaluation of grant agreement beteween the Norwegian Government and the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, invites tenders for an Evaluation of a Grant by the Norwegian Government to the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria. In this process, it will target at least three specific potential tenderers, and will further widely disseminate this `Invitation to Tender’.

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Launch of new Global Campus Human Rights Journal

8 March 2017 -  The Global Campus of Human Rights is proud to announce the launch of the Global Campus Human Rights Journal (GCHRJ) , a peer-reviewed online publication serving as a forum for rigorous scholarly analysis, critical commentaries, and reports on recent developments pertaining
to human rights and democratisation globally.

GCHRJ is edited by a team of three, led by Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, who is assisted by two co-editors: Vahan Bournazian, Professor at Yerevan State University in Armenia, and Matthew Mullen, Lecturer at Mahidol University of Bangkok in Thailand. They are supported by an International Editorial Advisory Board.

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FACES 2017: African Student Cellphone Film Competition

8 March 2017 -  Students from all countries in Africa are invited to participate in the FACES 2017: African student cellphone film competition. The Competition is part of  the 26th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition, due to be held in Mauritius from 18 - 23 September 2017. The winning entries will be screened at the Moot Court Competition.

The closing date for FACES 2017 is 30 June 2017.

The purpose of the Competition is to encourage students from Africa to express themselves and to engage with issues of relevance to Africa, using available cellphone technology, and the enhance the Moot Court experience.

One student from the University of Pretoria, and one student from another university in Africa, will win a trip to screen their video at the Moot Court Competition in Mauritius.

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