Monthly Archives: May 2018


25 May 2018

HURISA STATEMENT FOR COMMEMORATION OF AFRICA DAY  

25 May is historical and a very important day for the people of Africa to reflect on the commitment and dedication of our leaders, forefathers and mothers who formed Organisation of African Unity/OAU, now today the African Union/AU, a continental body that aimed to fight and end colonisation, imperialism, slavery that was so rampant and subjected all Africans to hardship and marginalisation. Their human dignity was stripped off with no rights to property and land.  The African Union has continued to emphasise these values, since its inception, in particular, the AU strives  to  achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa; (b) defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States; (c) accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent; (d) promote and defend African common positions on issues of interest to the continent and its peoples; (e) encourage international cooperation, taking due account of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; (f) promote peace, security, and stability on the continent; (g) and promote democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance.

As we remember this day, we should assess how far and progress African and African leaders made to achieve the dreams of our fore leaders. Today, we have nothing to account for before our fore leaders who sacrificed their lives for conquering independence, freedom and unity.  After several centuries, Africa remains the field of war, conflicts, intolerance, slavery, disunity and a continent which cannot take care of its own children, where most of them are perishing in the Mediterranean seeking greener pastures in Europe or more often being trafficked for enslavement because neighbouring African Countries have closed doors and refused to accept fellow Africans. Their fate is horrific as they get enslaved and murdered in their own land, Africa.

Africa has not accounted for giving its own children, women and young peoples as many women and girls are raped in Africa, under the watch of African Leaders.

The importance of this day is also to reflect on our democracy model after several decades. Africans are unable to establish democratic and independent institutions as envisaged by our forefathers. Existing AU organs and institutions are facing several challenges. Case in point is the Pan African Parliament/PAP, which is established under Article 17 of the AU Constitutive Act to be a continental platform for discussion of important issues in Africa.  The Institution has a new Protocol (Malawi Protocol), which give PAP legislative power to enact model laws on issues affecting African peoples.  Because of lack of political will and commitment from our leaders to ratify the revised protocol, this institution cannot deliver much of what is expected. However, we salute some processes made so far on the reunification of African countries but bringing on board the 55 Member States, including Morocco.   It is also time to reflect on the situation of the illegal occupation by Morocco of the Western Sahara Republic territory, the ever ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroun and Burundi as well.   This has the effect of prolonging implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, which commit involvement of young people and call for the need to profit from the demographic dividend by investing more in the young people.  Peace and security is another important area to double our efforts as we cannot talk about development or a prosperous Africa, when most of the countries, DRC which is gifted in natural resource is plunged into war.

It is also a day that civil society, human rights defenders, national human rights institutions and governments need to popularise in educating the African citizens about its significance to promote democracy, peace and justice. The AU has declared this year as a Year for Winning the Fight Against Corruption. There are several mechanisms in Africa that AU has adopted for accountability, respect of the rule of law and human rights. In respect of Corruption, AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption is relevant for addressing the high scale of corruption, including the Thabo Mbeki findings on illicit financial transfers from Africa. That contribute to exacerbation of poverty and marginalisation of African people.

In South Africa, this year is dedicated to celebration of the centenary of our human rights icon, Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu. They played important roles in contributing towards consolidation of democracy in South Africa and beyond, building of democratic institutions, respect of the rule of law and human rights. South Africa should use this momentum to free the people of this country from the shackles of corruption. The perpetrators of this crime should not only be held accountable, but it should be intensified to recover stolen funds and looted out of the country. The new era is making inroads in tackling this cancer of corruption and should do more so with Civil Society. In this way the path to achieving SDG 16 & 17 which commit states to create safe environments for communities will be realised, including making institutions of democracy conduct their constitutional and legislative obligations independently without fear, favour of prejudice.    South Africa is a state party to AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption and should lead in fighting this evil culture internally and across Africa and develop effective laws complaint with AU mechanisms. As Chair of the SADC region and upcoming Chair of the BRICS much need to be done to change the culture of unaccountability, reprisals targeting abiding officials, citizens, in association, assembly, expression of human rights violations and appreciation of human rights defenders for cooperating with national, African and International human rights systems.

While wishing a happy Africa Day, HURISA call for a deep reflection on the Africa model as predefined by our fore leaders and to the idea of Pan Africanism.

 

 

 

 

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We, the civil society organizations attending the strategic planning workshop on African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly organised by Human Rights Institute of South Africa from 12-13 April in Johannesburg, South Africa.[1]

DESIROUS of contextualising the predominant “westernised or accepted” human rights norms and frameworks with lived African experiences and challenges;

AFFIRMING the associational character of African within the international instruments and frameworks, and confirm that rights to Freedom of Association and Assembly (FoAA) are African values and need to be understood in an African context;

[1] Civil societies from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, working on human rights, democratic governance & development, women and youth empowerment, legal aid, and litigation to advance the rights of freedom of association and assembly in Southern Africa.

WELCOMING  the adoption of the Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa  by African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa during   its 60th Session held in Niamey, Niger from 8-22 May 2017;

DRAWING inspiration from these progressive African norms and guidelines;

NOTING WITH CONCERN the trends of violations of freedom of Association and Assembly in the SADC region, as evidenced by amongst other challenges:

  • Non-implementation of human rights obligations on Freedom of Association and Assembly;
  • Criminalisation of association and assembly through selective application of restrictive laws and failure to implement progressive provisions advancing the rights as provided in national Constitutions and regional and international treaties and standards;
  • Misuse of security and anti-terrorism laws to restrict civic space;
  • Continued violation of Associational and Assembly rights, including through disregard of court orders;
  • Failure to ensure that law enforcement agencies promote, protect and uphold these rights;
  • Cumbersome registration requirements and administrative practices that undermine operations of civil society organizations;
  • Stringent requirements of notification/`permits by police for gatherings and protests and selective application of these requirements;
  • Inadequate awareness by relevant stakeholders on norms and standards that promote freedom of Association and Assembly;
  • Language barriers hindering access to information on norms and standards on association and assembly;
  • Inadequate capacity by citizens to effectively access use these instruments for enjoyment of freedom of Association and Assembly;
  • Restrictive space for civil society interventions to promote freedom of association and assembly;
  • Failure to reconcile progressive cultural practices that advance association with accepted international human rights framework.

 

COGNISANT of the role played by various stakeholders in promoting and protecting freedom of Association and Assembly, including;

  • The Executive (including oversight Ministries, regulators and law enforcement agencies);
  • The Legislature (parliamentarians at national, regional and continental level);
  • The Judiciary and justice sector stakeholders, including legal practitioners in the public, private and non-governmental sectors, and Law Reform/Development Commissions;
  • National human rights institutions;
  • Local authorities;
  • Community leaders, including traditional and religious leaders;
  • Media;
  • African Union and United Nations human rights mechanisms; and
  • International role players and development partners.

 

HAVING convened for a one and half day strategic planning workshop on awareness raising and popularization of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa;

CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS FROM SADC HERE PRESENT RESOLVE TO:

MAKE every efforts to engage the identified stakeholders for a broad-based effort to strengthen the right to freedom of Association and peaceful Assembly in the SADC region.

ADOPT the following strategies to address the challenges:

  • Evidence-based monitoring for pro-active advocacy;
  • Capacity building for stakeholders;
  • Public interest litigation;
  • Application of regional and international mechanisms and good practices;
  • Strengthening and reform of institutions and administrative practices; and
  • Policy and law reform.

REMAIN vigilant against threats to freedom of Association and Assembly;

COMMIT to collaborate and to provide support to each other through individual and joint efforts at the national and regional levels to protect and promote these rights.

——————————————————–

 

                                                  Participating Civil Society Organizations:

Associação Justiça, Paz e Democracia (Angola)

DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Botswana)

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa OSISA (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Transformation Resources Centre (Lesotho)

Centre for Human Rights & Rehabilitation (Malawi)

Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) (South Africa)

Freedom of Expression Institute (South Africa)

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (South Africa)

IDEAL (Swaziland)

Lawyers for Human Rights (Swaziland)

Human Rights Forum/ HRF (Zambia)

Women of Zimbabwe Arise! (Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (Zimbabwe)

CIVICUS (South Africa)

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

International commission of Jurists (regional office/ South Africa

 

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) hosted a one-and-a-half day strategic planning workshop on 12-13 April, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. HURISA and ICNL participated in and supported the development and ultimate adoption of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa. This workshop was the first at regional level to popularize the Guidelines and develop strategies for their implementation as a means of strengthening enjoyment of SADC citizens’ Association and Assembly rights.

 

info@hurisa.org.za – www.hurisa.org.za

 

For more information please contact:

Corlett Letlojane: Executive Director of Human Rights Institute of South Africa.      

Study Group Member on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Focal Point SADC Region for NGO Participation in Sessions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Email:corlett@hurisa.org.za. Tel: +27 11 492 1103.[1]

 

#CivicSpaceSouthernAfrica

 

 

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                                     Statement to Mark South Africa’s Freedom Day

                                                              Friday 27 April 2018

                                    Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)

 

This year freedom day marks a new era in South Africa where renewed leadership in government can regain the people’s confidence by committing not only by word but by reinvigorated actions to hold those accountable for gross human rights violation with impunity, fraud, corruption, and for encouraging the systematic breakdown of the rule of law.

The Freedom and security of the person, which includes the right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause; not to be detained without trial; to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources; not to be tortured in any way; and not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way, are fundamental human rights which are enshrined under the section 12 of Bill of Rights, which is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It promote the rights of all people and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom, which the state must respect, protect, promote and fulfill in accordance with international and regional obligations.

However, South Africa’s human rights record has deteriorated and regressed to the levels similar to the dark era of injustice that targeted individuals as well as associations from exercising their human rights. . The hardship of apartheid specialised in demeaning people’s human dignity and subjected them to inferior living conditions, with poor education and exclusion in politics and from benefiting equitably in the country’s social and economic plans, have not been yet redressed under the new democracy in 1994, which gives promises to restore the people’s confidence in protection by the law and politics. However, there’s little changes made in improving the lives of the marginalised majority of people in the country. Several challenges ranging from the deprivation and deterioration of socioeconomic and human rights to the lack of effective mechanisms to redress communities. In particular people’s lives are degraded due to the downgrading of the country’s economy as well the loss of a world class reputation held by our financial institutions and auditing firms. Inflation has rapidly went up with disturbing unemployment and poverty levels that affect mostly women and youth. Out of population of about 55million, 17 million people is needy and dependent on social and only 15.5million people are employed.This is not sustainable as people who receive social grants are more than those in employment.  This has been exacerbated by the breakdown of the rule of law, where state’s constitutional obligations were deliberately neglected and institutions of democracy undermined for holding officials accountable, especially the executive in impoverishing the country for his personal self-interest.

Today, freedom day importance is its coincidence with the celebration of the centenary (100 years) of Nelson Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and other human rights icons.  The country will also remember the legacy of Mama Winnie’s sacrificial choices in confronting an evil apartheid regime with all its apparatuses. It is through icon like them that made South Africa defeated apartheid. At the continental level, the African Union has declared the year of ‘Winning the Fight Against Impunity”.

This year also is of an important nature at the global level where the United Nations celebrates 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.  In views of the importance of this year,  South Africa should review its trend of retracting from a human rights path entrenched by Tata Nelson Mandela who reassured the people as a beacon of hope and even inspired most from the SADC region as well as the continent and global community to stand against injustice.  South Africans will find meaning and purpose in celebration of Freedom Day if serious measures are placed to end mysterious killings, murders motivated by political intolerance, removal of corrupted politicians that continue to be in key office, despite being exposed to be involved in serious corruption cases, such as state capture, persecution of journalists for availing truth to the public and human rights defenders for promoting human rights. What was more concerning was the emergence of state sponsored actors recruited for defending wrong doings of officials. South Africa does not need to copy apartheid divisive tactics to manipulate citizens from exposing impunity.

During the past era, constitutional powers and mandate of institutions of democracy, such as the Chapter 9 Institutions like South African Human Rights Commission, Commission for Gender and Public Protector and Constitutional Court were under severe criticism and undermined for fulfilling their duties without fear, favour and prejudice. It also worrying that these institutions face amalgamation process. As this continue, fear for rendering these institutions ineffective and CGE subsumed has been raised and little is done to enable them with adequate support to address gender disparity and gender based violence in the country.

While a trend of referring to civil society and human rights defenders as foreign agent for regime change was reminiscence of tyrannical leaders in the region who were sensitive to performance of human rights duties and exposing corruption and noncompliance in the country. Public servants who refused to cover maladministration and fraud also faced arbitrary dismissals, transfers and malicious prosecutions for defending the constitution and rule of law. The new leadership should do everything in its power to end police brutality in demonstrations, protests and assembly. The shooting of a young leaner in the North West Province is condemned and Minister of Police is called to ensure prosecution of all suspects and restore the rule of law, peace and democracy. Communities are desperate to live in safe environment, where service delivery will be honoured by access of water, refuse removal, maintenance of basic necessities such as street lights, functioning of clinics, hospitals, schools and safe transportation.

The continuous high crimes committed to law abiding citizens, who face house break ins, car hijacking, robbery, abductions, brutal sexual violence experienced by women and children call for stronger measures and commitment from police, citizens and victims. The government should attend to the deplorable conditions and squalor for people living in informal settlements such as Diepsloot, Zanspruit, Ivory Park, Kalfontein, Alexandra are exposed to. In these places, people have no infrastructure for sewage and number of 30 community members share a pit-toilet or are subjected to a bucket system. Other areas that need improving is the taxi ranks and taxis, these place are often not well maintained and not cleaned. They are no refuse bins, toilet are often blocked and people forced to relieve themselves on sideways.   Drug trafficking and abuse of young people has perpetuated their vulnerability in crime advancement for survival.

South Africa remain an important country and should use its leadership role in peace mediation in the region and world to fight political intolerance, high crime, murders, persecution of human rights defender and journalists and develop a culture of tolerance, hospitality and acceptance vis a vis our fellow black  African.

While wishing all South Africans a happy freedom day and to all those who have chosen to live in South Africa

The Human Rights Institute of South Africa-HURISA, is calling the new leadership to fast track its commitment to hold the perpetrators of corruption and defend human rights by doing the following;

  • Crack out key criminal activities and remove the culprits of these acts from holding key positions in government. Especially, ensure the arrest and prosecution of fraud, high profile crimes and suspend, remove those mentioned in the state capture allegations from holding government positions
  • Continue to uphold constitutionalism in the country without compromise to the rule of law, human rights and ensuring adherence to the principle of all equal before the law and no one is above the law
  • Address the chronic problem of service delivery, by ensuring implementation of service delivery at local level, prosecute municipalities involved in fraud and abuse of tender opportunities
  • Promote and Protect Freedom of Association, Assembly and Expression by ending violence in protests and ensure police end use of excessive powers and use of life ammunition in protests
  • Ensure Minister of Police effectively, monitors the arrest and prosecution of murders committed in assemblies, protests and demonstrations
  • Ensure restoration of the people’s human dignity, by addressing the phenomenon of squalor in taxi ranks, informal settlements which South Africa had committed to end by 2014 with little progress made
  • End implementation of pit toilets, bucket system in South Africa, especially in marginalised communities
  • Address the high crime rate in all communities of South Africa, where car hijacking, house breaking, abductions, brutal rape of women and young girls has been cultured
  • Discourage recruitment of state sponsored, actors, civil society for defending wrong doings of those responsible to serve the nation
  • Outlaw Ukuthwala and Ukuhlola practices, as recommended by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, also repeal laws that advance discrimination and inequality of women
  • End process for amalgamation of Chapter 9 Institutions, especially the CGE and ensure adequate resources are provided to enable effective impact of their constitutional and legislative obligations
  • Ensure all law abiding officials protection in their office and continue to serve people of this country with scrupulousness characters and honour
  • Uphold and comply with regional and international human rights obligations and ensure citizens have direct access to the SADC Tribunal as well as the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and ICC
  • Ratify Convention Against Disappearances, Opt Protocol on Torture for enactment a law to prosecute all officials who commit this crime
  • Ensure development of a law for promotion and protection of Human Rights Defender’s in the country to perform their duties in line with constitutional and legislative framework, including regional and international mechanisms binding South Africa.

 

For further information landline: 011 492 1103, mobile 079 358 3961

Email lupwana@hurisa.org.za: tshepo@hurisa.org.za

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