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Centre News & Events: 2017
Eritrea must free prize winning journalist, says UN human rights expert

9 May 2017 - GENEVA (3 May 2017) – The Government of Eritrea must free journalist Dawit Isaak who has been awarded a prestigious press freedom prize some 15 years after he was detained, a United Nations human rights expert says.
 
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, is also calling on the authorities in Asmara to release unconditionally all others detained unlawfully.

“The Eritrean authorities should stop the practice of arrests and detention carried out without legal basis instantly,” said Ms. Keetharuth, welcoming the award of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 to Mr. Isaak.
 



Mr. Isaak was arrested in September 2001 during a political crackdown on the so-called G-15, a group of politicians, and journalists critical of Eritrean Government policies.

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Centre for Human Rights urges Zambian authorities to drop treason charges against opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema

9 May 2017 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, expresses deep concern about the treason charge Zambia’s opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema is facing.

The Centre is deeply concerned about the serious recent ethnic tensions in Zambia, which appear to be politically motivated and to be part of an orchestrated campaign by sections of senior level politicians seeking to earn political dividends at the expense of peace in the country.  

Hichilema faces two charges, one for obstructing President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade, and another for treason, which is a non-bailable offence. Treason is an extremely serious offence, for which the maximum penalty is the death penalty.



Zambia’s opposition party leader Hakainde Hichilema

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Refresher 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 Maputo Protocol) in the Kingdom of Lesotho

8 May 2017 - In view of strengthening the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women in Africa (SRRWA), the Gender Unit of the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) organised a three-day refresher 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 Maputo Protocol) in the Kingdom of Lesotho. The workshop was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Law and Constitutional Affairs.

The workshop was held from 10 to the 12 April 2017 at the Lancers Inn conference hall in Maseru. Ten key government and civil society stakeholders involved in the state reporting process in Lesotho attended this workshop.

The main objectives of the workshop were to disseminate and popularize the Guidelines on State Reporting on the Maputo Protocol; to build and strengthen the capacity of the key stakeholders in on state reporting under the Maputo Protocol. In addition, to ensure that the government of Lesotho complies with its state reporting obligations under the African Charter (Part A) and particularly the Maputo Protocol (Part B). In pursuant of this goal, the CHR had provided a technical assistant to assist the country (for a period of 10 months) in the production of its report.

 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

Patience Mpani and Prof Michelo Hansungule from the CHR at the 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 Maputo Protocol) in the Kingdom of Lesotho

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Round Table at Centre for Human Rights reflects on African approaches to international law

5 May 2017 - What is unique about Africa’s approach to international law? What would be the features of such an approach? This is some of the questions a group of forty international law scholars from across Africa and the diaspora asked themselves at a Round Table hosted by the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, on 3 and 4 May 2017.

The Round Table was convened under the theme ‘African approaches to international law’. During the Round Table the concept of an “African approach” was problematized, with participants agreeing that this notion should not be racially or culturally based, but spatially, or in terms of one’s methodological ‘orientation’.

One of the participants was Professor Makau wa Mutua, who is well known for his critical scholarship, and for having been instrumental in launching a school of anti-hegemonic thinking on international law, Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL). He emphasized the ‘African’ origins of TWAIL and contended that it has much to offer to African scholars critically engaged with international law.



Penelope Andrews, Busingye Kabumba, Prof Makau Mutua and Erika George at the Round Table

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Invitation: Brown Bag Lunch Lecture on 'Decolonising the university curriculum' by Professor Makau Mutua

5 May 2017 - The Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria cordially invites you to a brown bag lunch lecture on decolonising the university curriculum by distinguished critical legal scholar, Professor Makau Mutua.

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Open Society Foundations introduces Inclusive Education Scholarship Programme (IESP) in addition to the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme (DRSP)

5 May 2017 -  The Open Society Foundations (OSF) in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights (CHR) launched the Disability Rights Scholarship Programme (DRSP) in 2011. The CHR through the Disability Rights Unit has played a significant role of coordinating the DRSP which has included: marketing the programme, receiving applications, shortlisting semi-finalists and hosting the interviews of the shortlisted semi-finalists.

In 2016 the Open Society Foundation as the funder of the DRSP extended its funding and introduced for the first time an Inclusive Education Scholarship Programme (IESP), also in collaboration with the CHR.

DRSP and IESP are open to disability rights advocates, lawyers, and educators who are interested in the development of new legislation, jurisprudence, policy and research that will harness the innovations and opportunities offered by the domestication of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). For the 2017 programme those applying for the programmes had to be citizens of Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, or Uganda at the time of application.

The interview panel for the semi-finalists was composed of members of disability rights and inclusive education academic institutions in
Europe, United States of America, Canada and the Open Society Foundation who are the funders of the Scholarship.

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Invitation: Presentation of a proposed Draft Model Law on Intersex Persons Rights in Africa | Fact sheet on intersex persons

5 May 2017 - The Centre for Human Rights cordially invites all interested stakeholders attending the NGO Forum preceding the 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Niamey, Niger, to its presentation of a proposed Draft Model Law on Intersex Persons Rights in Africa. The objective of the meeting is to share the idea of the Model Law, get your views and devise a possible strategy of getting the Model Law adopted and implemented.

Intersex persons continue to face unfair discrimination based on their natural biological sex characteristics. With the exception of a few African countries there is no law that mentions or protects the rights of intersex persons. The Centre for Human Rights anticipates that this Model Law will address the gap in national legislation and assist African States in developing national laws, policies and institutions to protect the rights of all intersex persons. The Model Law will also act as a tool for advocating for law reform and stronger legal recognition and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of intersex persons in Africa.

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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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