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Comments Off on HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE OF SOUTH AFRICA (HURISA) STATEMENT OBSERVING FREEDOM DAY ON SA FREEDOM MONTH: 27TH APRIL 2016

South Africa celebrated the 2016 Freedom Day in an entirely different atmosphere from previous celebrations. South Africa celebrates Freedom Day each year on 27th April, marking the anniversary of the day in 1994, when the country held its first ever all-race, democratic election. The 2016 Freedom Day was however markedly different – this difference is perhaps best captured by a media article titled: Fractured SA celebrates Freedom Day. The article reports that as President Jacob Zuma led the official State celebrations in Giyani, Limpopo Province, in other parts of the country, civil society and non-governmental organisations marched against the president, calling for him to step down in the wake of last month’s Constitutional Court ruling.

 

This latest constitutional court ruling appears to be the spark that has finally awoken in the nation, the need to honestly reflect on the trajectory that the country is taking, under the current regime.

 

As expected, civil society and the media have been vocal, unrelenting and scathing in their assessment of the moral and ethical trajectory of the nation. Speaking from a human rights perspective, civil society and the media have particularly expressed concern regarding a developing culture of impunity, where State machinery is deployed to intimidate activists and to silence voices calling for eradication of corruption from the fabric of our society, equality before the law, efficiency in service delivery, better management of State resources and respect for human rights, among others.

 

Indeed this emerging predatory instinct by the State, where it so readily reacts to criticism by lashing out at “perceived enemies” and being quick to infringe on the rights and freedoms of citizens, is a departure from the aspirations of the founding leaders of this nation, who envisioned a country founded on a number of basic principles including, but not limited to: equality before the law, respect for human rights, unhindered access to basic services as a core basis for upholding human dignity and probity in the management of public and State affairs.

 

As we reflect on our history as a country and map out an increasingly challenging road ahead, the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) in upholding the aspirations of democratic South Africa’s founding leaders and the spirit of Freedom Day as a beacon to a more hopeful future, calls on the Government of South Africa to:

  • Submit to the Constitution as the highest law of the land.
  • Display a leadership that demonstrates respect for the rule of law, human rights and probity.
  • Respect the judiciary and national institutions accorded constitutional and legislative mandates to fulfil, promote, protect, respect their functions independently without fear, favour, prejudice or bias.
  • Promote the constitution and domestic law, including upholding domestic human rights principles at international and regional foras, including ending voting against UN resolutions that promote and protect human rights defenders.
  • Ensure that the legislature co-exists in a mutually respectful and complimentary manner with other arms of Government, as it retains its central role in a functional checks and balance system between the three arms of Government.
  • Ensure that the right to information, freedom of expression, association and assembly remain safeguarded as constitutional sacred fundamental rights and remove any laws, policies and bureaucracy that may seek to stifle, impede or suppress the utmost fulfillment of these rights and freedoms.
  • Ratify, domesticate and implement international and regional instruments that promote the rights and freedoms of citizens, especially the vulnerable members of society and minority groups.
  • Sustain adequate service delivery in provision of basic infrastructure, housing, healthcare, water and sanitation, security, education, paying particular attention to rural and deprived areas such as informal settlements.
  • Address arising service delivery challenges such as breakdowns and backlogs timeously.
  • Address social ills such as corruption, violence against women, children and generally the vulnerable individuals and groups within society
  • Address the root cause(s) of the pervasive inequity that is apparent in the South African society, as well as its manifestation such as poverty, high crime levels,
  • End persecution of state officials that uphold the constitution, legal framework, rule of law, justice and human rights
  • Protect law abiding citizens who cooperate with international and regional human rights bodies, particularly, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and implement reprisals and resolution passed by these bodies.
  • Consider drafting of new legislation to promote and protect human rights defenders in the country, regionally and internationally.
  • Seek technical support from ACHPR Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa who developed a report on the situation of freedom of association in Africa and a report on the situation of women human rights defenders in Africa. The Special Rapporteur is currently developing a model law on freedom of assembly for improved implementation of freedom of assembly in Africa.
  • Seek technical support from the ACHPR Chairperson and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa. The Special Rapporteur has developed a model law on the right to information in Africa which will benefit South Africa in dealing with right to information and freedom of expression.
  • Observe and implement the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance during the upcoming Local Government Elections.

 

Contact:

 

For further information or clarification relating to this statement, kindly contact:

 

John Mang’ana: john@hurisa.org.za or Junior Sikhwivhilu: junior@hurisa.org.za

Category: Latest News

State of the Union Project Intern

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Human Rights Institute of South Africa

DIRECTORATE: State of the Union

Position: State of the Union Project Intern

Location: Johannesburg Duration:

Fixed Term Contract 6 months
The State of the union Coalition was formed in 2009 by Civil Society Organizations in ten countries. It is a unique multi-sectoral monitoring group that is holding African Governments accountable for the ratification and implementation of African Union decisions. The coalition seeks to do this through Informing and empowering Citizens to act to claim key rights and freedoms; Influencing the African Union and African States to ratify, popularise and implement key standards, and through building inclusive continental and national platforms.

Purpose of the Role:

  • To provide support to the administration, co-ordination and project management of the State of the Union project. Key responsibilities include but not limited to:
    Assist project officer with reporting, following reporting guidelines of the project
  •  Work with Programs Manager to identify and secure venues for training, meetings and associated program activities;
  •  Assist in the preparation for workshops / community engagement meetings;
  •  Liaise with diverse stakeholders (youth participants, schools, community groups, donors, various spheres of government and other NGOs);
  • Assist with monitoring and evaluation of programmes and compilation of reports

Desired Skills & Experience The successful candidate will have: A degree in International Relations, development studies, political studies, social development studies, demography and Population studies or related field from a nationally / internationally recognised university would be an advantage.

  •  Strong administration experience.
  • Basic project management experience
  • Experience with research and writing
  •  Well organized and able to apply skills to large amounts of information.
  •  Excellent people skills working across different levels and cultures
  •  Has experience of working to deadlines and the ability to prioritise and manage own workload.
  • A proactive approach to duties, continually looking at ways to improve processes.
  •  Good communication skills. Fluent spoken and written English. Good interpersonal skills.
  •  Good administration, planning and project management skills.
  •  Proficiency in local languages will be an added advantage

 

Application Procedures
Applications should be sent with your CV, motivation cover letter by no later than 24th February 2016. You are requested to highlight in the motivation letter how specifically you meet the criteria for this role. To: jobs@hurisa.org.za

Due to high volumes of applications received, short listed applicants will be contacted going forward. Should you not have received feedback on your application within two weeks of the closing date, please consider your application unsuccessful. HURISA will not consider candidates from recruitment agencies. and reserves the right to withdraw any of our vacancies at any time.

HURISA promotes diversity and welcomes applications from all sections of the community especially females.

Category: Latest News

Comments Off on Press release on the suspension of ten (10) non-governmental organizations in Burundi

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Ms. Reine Alapini-Gansou, expresses her deep concern at the suspension of ten (10) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by the Government of Burundi.

According to information we received, on 23 November 2015, the Minister of Interior of Burundi issued decree nr. 530/1597 suspending ten (10) NGOs working for the protection of human rights.

We have been informed that this suspension is related to an investigation on allegations of inciting violence during Burundi’s recent periods of instability.

We are concerned about the negative consequences that could arise from this decision to suspend Forum pour le Renforcement de la Societé Civile (FORSC), Forum pour la Conscience et le Développement (FOCODE), Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la torture (ACAT), Association pour la protection des personnes détenues et les droits de l’homme (APRODH), Parole et Action pour le Réveil des Consciences et l’Evolution des Mentalités (PARCEM), Amicale des Militaires en Non Activité (AMINA), Fontaine Isoko de la Bonne Governance pour un Développement Integré (FONTAINE-ISOKO), Synergie des Partenaires pour la Promotion des Droits de la Femme (SPPDF), Réseau des Citoyens Probes (RCP) and Association Maison Shalom (Maison Shalom). We are further concerned by the continued allegations of harassments against human rights defenders by the Burundian security forces.

The Special Rapporteur notes that all ten (10) human rights organizations are well-known groups, and a number of them, such as APRODH are led by renowned human rights defenders such as Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who survived an assassination attempt in August 2015 and the killing of two family members in retaliation for his work as a human rights defender.

The Special Rapporteur condemns such practices which clearly constitute violations of human rights and humanitarian law, and reminds the Government of Burundi of its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Grand Bay and Kigali declarations, as well as other international legal instruments ratified by the Republic of Burundi.

The Special Rapporteur calls upon the State of Burundi to:

  •    Rescind the ministerial decree 530/1597 and abandon proceedings against the ten (10) non-governmental organizations in order to enable them to work freely;
  •   Take measures to put an immediate end to the intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders in Burundi.

 

Done in Banjul, on 1 December 2015

Ms. Reine Alapini-Gansou

Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa

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PRESS STATEMENT

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For immediate release

[Please share with your civil society and media networks, and email to SADC heads of state]

Issued by:        The Coalition for an Effective SADC Tribunal

Date:               14 August 2015

On the eve of the SADC Heads of State Summit on Sunday 16th August the Coalition for an effective SADC Tribunal calls on heads of state to uphold the rule of law and human rights in the region by reinstating the SADC Tribunal.

In August 2014, contrary to the SADC Treaty of which Article 23 provides that decisions concerning the community and any affected persons or citizens, must be made in consultation with them, the SADC Heads of State adopted a new Protocol on the SADC Tribunal, without any consultation. The SADC did not act in accordance with its own Treaty’s amendment procedures. As such the suspension lacks legality, “inter alia” because the SADC Treaty does not allow for suspension.

The new Protocol removes access to the Tribunal by individuals and legal persons, and removes its human rights mandate. To date the Protocol has been signed by nine member states, but will enter into force thirty days after ten countries have ratified it. It is not yet clear as to whether any country has actually ratified the Protocol through their national parliaments.

The Coalition for an effective SADC Tribunal is committed to championing efforts and advocacy to reinstate the Tribunal as it affects every single citizen and person in the region. The reinstatement would provide legal recourse to people seeking justice once they have exhausted existing legal remedies at the national level.

The disbandment of the old Tribunal and the adoption of the new Protocol effectively disregards the independence of the judiciary, separation of powers and the rule of law. It also impacts negatively on human rights and business confidence across the region.

We urge each SADC head of state to consider the merits of the SADC Tribunal in its original form and the positive impact it will have in the region – socially, economically and in terms of international best practice.

Coalition partners supporting this call include:

NGO Policy Forum – Tanzania

Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) – South Africa

Council of Churches – Swaziland

Centre for Mozambican and International Studies (CEMO) – Mozambique

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) – South Africa

Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) – Lesotho

Association for Justice Peace and Democracy (AJPD) – Angola

Media Institute of Southern Africa MISA – Regional

Tanganyika Law Society – Tanzania

Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria – South Africa

SADC Lawyers’ Association – Regional

Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) – Regional

SADC CNGO Forum – Regional

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition – Zimbabwe

Citizen Engagement Platform Seychelles (CEPS) – Seychelles

Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) – Malawi

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) – Regional

African Centre for Justice Innovation –  Regional

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) –  Global

 

For more information please contact:

Muluka Miti-Drummond <mulukam@salc.org.za>

Dorothy Brislin <dorothyb@osisa.org>

 

Call to action:

Support the petition to reinstate the SADC Tribunal at the link https://www.change.org/p/sadc-heads-of-state-and-government-don-t-deprive-me-of-my-right-to-take-leaders-of-southern-africa-to-court

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EENA: national consultation Invite

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EENA: national consultation

Date 10 June 2015

Speakers include Retired Judge, Richard Goldstone , Former Constitutional Court Judge, 1st Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda: The CSO environment before 1994, Advocate Tsheliso Tshipyane, Former CEO SARHC, and project lead researcher Kimani Ndungu presenting the findings of EENA research project.

Venue : Nelson Mandela Foundation, 107 Central Street, Houghton, 2198

Time 09:00- 16:00

RSVP: Julia Seleka : julia@hurisa.org.za,

CC:Junior Sikhwivhilu : junior@hurisa.org.za

Category: Latest News

Media Statement

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Media Statement

22 January 2015

 

HER VOICE, HER PEACE, SHE MATTERS: GLOBAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED IN ETHIOPIA, ADDIS ABABA AS PART OF THE 24TH AFRICAN UNION CIVIL SOCIETY PRE- SUMMIT, 22-31 JANUARY 2015


Attention: Editors, Reporters and Producers

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), Southern Africa Liaison Office (SALO) and Sonke Gender Justice (SGJ) launched the Continental and Global media Campaign in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa on Tuesday, the 20 January 2015 under the theme’ Her Voice, Her Peace, She matters.

This continental and global campaign is informed and guided by the African Union theme for 2015 which has been declared as the “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063: What is the Change We Want to See?” and the fifteenth anniversary of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, and the finalization of deliberations on the Post-2015 Agenda.

As Human rights organisations based in South Africa and having impact on the African Continent and the World, We call upon all Africans and like-minded Human rights organisations across South Africa and Africa to add their voices and to enable African women’s voices that are seldom heard in the corridors and in the conference rooms of decision-makers, where the very same women’s lives and future are decided.

These same African women, so long as they are not participating in economics, political life and socio- cultural life experiences due to being refugees, undocumented or stateless, child-soldiers,  and victims of sexual violence during war times, will rarely have the opportunity to determine and vocalise their own needs to those who make decisions of their lives.

Her voice, her peace, she matters media campaign in simple human rights language means:

Her voice is essential within the halls and corridors of decision making as she knows best what will enable her to have her basic rights and dignity;

Her peace is fundamentally for her to be a person living free and safe to participate and make sound decision for herself and

She matters because without her participation and development, the African continent shall not develop or prosper.

Issued by HURISA, CSVR, POWA, SALO AND SGJ

 

For media interviews in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa Kindly liase with  Sufiya and Litlhare Rabele : 00251 9325 15958 or 002511927941163

 

Social medial links:

@whyshematters: kindly tweet- while you make decisions on peace and security, remember- Africa women’s and girls’ lives matter

Facebook page: her voice her peace she matters

Weblog: www.hervoiceherpeaceshematters.org (for pictures and speeches of the global media campaign)

 

Notes and facts for editors, reporters and producers to consider:

 

  1. African women and girls comprise about half of any refugee IDP or stateless population and are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation;
  1. African women and girls constitute the majority of vulnerable people on the continent, from domestic violence to lack of access to basic reproductive health rights not to mention customary social norms that tend to marginalise or exclude women from active participation in political or economic environments;
  1. Glaring number of conflicts on the African continent  coupled with women’s bodies and the assumed gendered roles they are kept in means that millions of women across the continent face extra-ordinary abuses such as being forced into slavery and exploitative conditions such as war wives and alongside their male counterparts child soldiers;
  1. African women and girl child, who experience war, suffer the traumas of war both physically and emotionally and cannot be expected to participate fully in political, economic and cultural life;
  1. The recently publicized abductions of the girls by Boko Haram in protest of women being educated and forced them into war, turning them into suicide bombers, is evidenced of rising cultural and religious fundamentalism that is sweeping the African Continent;
  1. So long as there are conflicts on the African soil and unresolved transitions out of conflict in communities, those who predominantly depend on , and manage community cohesion will always have interrupted development, remain marginalised, vulnerable and
  1. There is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to society where half of the people are held in silence. I hear the roar of women’s silence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt” … Women hold up the other half of the sky ( Thomas Sankara, Women’s liberation and the African freedom struggle)

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Comments Off on 1st Commemorative Anniversary of Tata’s life, 5 December 2014

As South Africa honours the first commemoration of the departure of our former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the father of a nation founded on human rights, equality, non-discrimination and non-sexism. We  reflect on the great contributions and commitments he has made in the struggle for liberation, peace and justice. These are indeed principles he has taught to us and the rest of the world at large, which is the greatest legacy he has left behind.

On the 5th of December 2013, when the whole world learnt of the passing away of this giant, it was a very sad moment but also a time to celebrate his life as a world icon on human rights. Through his activism he managed to secure every South African a bright future and went on to introduce measures that ensured that we never go that pathway again. Next week Wednesday (10th December) we will be further celebrating one of Madiba’s greatest achievements as we commemorate 18 years of him signing into law the South African Constitution, which is the foundation of our hard earned democracy. As HURISA we are planning an event on that date where we mirror the icon’s role, especially as one of the important leaders who were vital in the fundraising efforts of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa in its inception phases during the early 90s. It was in 1992 when, during a visit to Norway, Mr Mandela requested assistance from the Norwegian Government for effective monitoring of politically based public violence that was threatening the transformation process from apartheid to a multiracial democracy in South Africa. This paved the way for the establishment of HURISA.  The following year in June 1993 HURISA was founded as the Institute for the Study of Public Violence and served as the research and documentation arm of the Commission of Inquiry into public violence, chaired by retired Judge Richard Goldstone. This was all made possible by the support and encouragement of President Nelson Mandela, the father of our democracy. It was in 1994 when the Goldstone Commission’s mandate ended and the name of the organisation was changed to the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA).

Right from the beginning the organisation envisaged a society in which all people are aware of their human rights, how their rights can be realised and how redress mechanisms can be accessed. To this end the organisation provides human rights education and citizen participation, primarily in South Africa, but also in the region and continent at large. HURISA now is among the leading human rights bodies in the region and implements projects and programmes designed to equip citizens with knowledge about the rights they are entitled to, as well as the importance of their participation in the social debates of the day.

Although challenges exist in our system today, we are confident of the impact Madiba has made in all South Africans. We are urging the government of the day to continue Madiba’s legacy of defending human rights and caring for the upliftment of the people through policy, values, actions and priorities. We call upon South Africans to play a role in holding our government accountable as was Mandela’s administration. We are also calling upon South Africa to have a pro-human rights approach in foreign policy as well as in regional commitments. HURISA thus avails itself, as in previous years, to partnering with different stakeholders in strengthening national as well as continental and global systems of human rights , peace and democracy.

As we celebrate 20 years of our organization’s existence, we applaud uTata Nelson Mandela for everything he has done for us during his lifetime in adding value to human’s actuality.

In our minds and those of future generations uTata will never be forgotten.

Siyakukhumbula Madiba!

Issued by: The Human Rights Institute of South Africa

Contact Mlamli and Mduduzi 011 333 1730: email mlamli@hurisa.org.za, khanyi@hurisa.org.za

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Comments Off on Press Statement of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)

Released on 21 October 2014, in commemoration of Africa Human Rights Day

Africa Human Rights Day is observed on 21 October, as a result of entry into force of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights in 1986. This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the existence of the African legal instrument ratified by all 54 African Union States.  The Charter guarantees civil, political, economic and cultural rights. The enjoyment of these rights by African citizens depends entirely on the state’s political will to domesticate these rights and implementation of court decisions. While South Africa has made strides in ratification of regional Protocols, little is done to domesticate the African Charter. Although Article 25 obliges states to educate citizens about the Charter through research and awareness raising, this regional mechanism remains unknown by citizens especially at community level, which creates tacit barriers for the advancement of our democracy and citizen participation. The Charter also imposes a duty upon the state to respect the independence and impartiality of national institutions. In South Africa these institutions are empowered to function without fear, favour and prejudice. The state also has a duty to ensuring strengthened operations and capacities of these institutions and their accessibility to communities. The Charter also places responsibility on the state to submit periodic reports every two years to the Human Rights Organ of the African Union demonstrating measures taken to effect provisions of the Charter. These are new guidelines adopted by this organ to assist states parties develop country reports which include situations of women human rights. Human rights NGOs such as HURISA have assisted the government in preparing its draft periodic report as far back as 2010. The latest CSO contributions were presented in June 2013 to officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation as well as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. However the state has failed to submit the country report and pledged to do so after the installation of the new administration. The new administration has been in power since June 2014 with more or less officials that were in power before the May 7 2014 national elections. As a result, South Africa’s human rights record reflects the last report submitted to the African Commission in 2005. This means the country is behind with 4 long overdue reports that need to be submitted to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.

HURISA and partners are calling upon the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality to urge the government to comply with its AU obligations by bringing up to date all its overdue reports to the African Commission and ensuring timeous submission of its human rights reports to relevant human rights bodies.

Issued by Mduduzi Khanyile, Advocacy and Communications Officer, khanyile@hurisa.org.za, 011 333 1730, 0742682665

Category: Latest News

HURISA CELBERATES 20 YEARS OF EXISTENCE

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HURISA CELBERATES 20 YEARS OF EXISTENCE

PRESS STATEMENT

For immediate release

5 September 2014

 

On the 6th of September 2014, The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) celebrates 20 years of existence as one of the leading human rights NGOs in South Africa.

HURISA traces its origins to the Richard Goldstone Commission established in late 1991 by the then President Frederick de Klerk, to investigate political violence and intimidation during the tumultuous period leading to the first democratic elections in 1994. In June 1993, HURISA was formally founded as the Institute for the Study of Public Violence and began to serve as the research and documentation arm of the Goldstone Commission.  When the Goldstone Commission’s mandate ended in 1994, the name of the organisation was changed to the Human Rights Institute of South Africa.

During its 20 years of existence, HURISA has worked hard to transform, safeguard and advance human rights not just in South Africa, but also in the southern African region and on the African continent as a whole. The institute has worked with a wide number of NGOs and community-based organisations in South Africa, and provided training to government officials, legal practitioners, grassroots communities, students, educators and learners. For more than 10 years, HURISA coordinated the Pan African Human Rights Training Programme through which individuals, academics, human rights defenders, NGOs and government officials were provided with training on human rights and human rights mechanisms on the African continent. Training camps were successfully held in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco and Egypt.

Understanding the need to strengthen the work of continental and international human rights mechanisms and institutions, HURISA has worked closely with bodies such as the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (African Commission), the Organisation for African Unity (now the African Union), SADC and the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

HURISA enjoys observer status with the African Commission and has since 2002 served as a vital source for promoting and protecting the African human rights mechanisms in South Africa and beyond. HURISA also serves as a focal point for the Executive Committee of the NGO Forum for the SADC region, and organises pre meetings to consolidate human rights issues for discussion in the NGO Forum as well as in the public sessions of the African Commission.

The organisation has contributed to the development of the legal architecture of the African Union through advocacy and lobbying of the African Commission for adoption of a number of regional mechanisms and resolutions. It is in this vein that the institute played a seminal role in the development and adoption of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Protocol Establishing the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, and the Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

Other milestones for which the institute can justifiably claim pride include the adoption of guidelines for the nomination and appointment of commissioners and judges of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, the adoption of the Robben Island Guidelines on Torture and Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, and the Kigali Declaration which promotes the work of human rights defenders on the African continent. Forced disappearances and extra judicial executions continue to plague the human rights landscape in Africa a fact which made HURISA lobby strongly for the African Commission to expand the mandate of the Committee on Death Penalty to include the afore-mentioned egregious human rights violations.

Proud as we are of our history and of our achievements, we cannot nevertheless turn a blind eye to the many challenges facing South Africa 20 years since that proud moment when all South Africans, irrespective of their colour, gender or creed, were able for the first time to exercise their bitterly fought for right to elect a government of their choice. South Africa’s peace and security is threatened by high unemployment, deep inequality and social exclusion. Spiralling crime, violence against women, children, gays, lesbians and migrants, and a disregard for the basic rights of others now define the new South African society. In a society defined by consumerism and the ostentatious display of material wealth, corruption has become endemic. From the non-delivery of school books in Limpopo thus compromising the right to education of a whole generation of children, to  corruption in the tender processes, wasteful state expenditure by provincial departments and entities, municipalities, negligence and incompetence have claimed over R30 billions of governments’ annual procurement budget ( Head of Special Unit Investigation and the Auditor General’s report, 2011-2012 report).

Community anger at the lack of basic services such as water, electricity, health clinics and roads has seen a dramatic rise in what are now labelled ‘service delivery protests’. These protests have become increasingly violent often resulting in deaths, injuries and the destruction of public and private property.

Institutions established to support constitutional democracy in South Africa such as the South African Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Auditor General, Commission for Gender Equality and the office of the Public Protector continue to be of pivotal importance to our maturing democracy and for folding the state accountable. However, disregard for the rule of law and the undermining of these institutions is a worrying sign that all is not well in the “Rainbow Nation”.

As HURISA celebrates twenty years of actively promoting the cause of human rights in South Africa, it cannot lose sight of the many challenges confronting the young democracy. However, these challenges are the reason why the work of the institute and many other similar civil society organisations remain important.

The Institute has planned a series of commemorative events around Johannesburg. They will include seminars, an exhibition and a gala dinner during which an award will be presented to a South African who has made the most outstanding contribution to the defence of human rights in the country and beyond. HURISA will appreciate any donations in cash or in kind, towards the successful 20 years celebration of its existence which will be on 27 November 2014.

HURISA acknowledges the sacrificial role of the late Tata Nelson Mandela in soliciting funds for the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry from the Royal Norwegian community, Danish Embassy, Finish, Konrad-Adenauer–Stiftung e.V., Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, Open Society Foundation, Open Society Foundation of Southern Africa, Ford Foundation, Mott Foundation, Oxfam-Novib, Hivos, Southern Africa Trust, Oxfam-Great Britain, Foundation for Human Rights, European Union, Lifeline advocacy sub grant (CIVICUS), Freedom House South Africa.

For comments/enquiries, please contact Corlett Letlojane, the Executive Director, HURISA. Telephone numbers:  011 333 1730 /082 574 7773

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Comments Off on Press statement on the situation of peace, security and gender equality in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Press statement on the situation of peace, security and gender equality in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

28 August 2014

Gordon Institute of Business Science

Issued by the Human Rights Institute of South Africa

As we celebrate the women’s month, we observe with serious concern the slow implementation of the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) peace and security mechanisms in armed conflict countries, especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). One of the important instruments is the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which is 14 years in existence, but its implementation has been staggering at national, regional and international levels. The aim of this resolution is to ensure women’s participation in the conceptualisation, negotiation and mediation in the peace process.

The Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed in January 2014, was not observed, and the insurgency continued unabated. This has resulted in people being displaced, as the United Nations report (2014) states, 1.1 million people are internally displaced, with 405,000 displaced in neighbouring countries. Most of these displaced are women and children. Two more peace agreements were signed between February and June 2014, however, none of these brought sustainable solutions. The fourth peace agreement subsequently signed in August 2014 states that there should be formation of a unity government in 45 days, this is yet to be respected by both warring groups.

The findings from South Sudan are that as the peace process is staggering, conflict and humanitarian crisis escalates, women and children suffer the most, through increased famine, internal displacement, and lack of access to health and education services among other critical services, torture, mass killings and rape. These suppress human rights, and the situation is devastating in areas such as the Blue Nile, Nuba mountains and Malakal. This becomes a challenge to peace process. In DRC, the situation is so terrible that women can’t exercise their rights to access basic necessities and livelihood, they face life threatening risk, abduction, rape, which is used as a weapon of war especially when they go out to fetch water and firewood in the forest. They also experience severe taxes imposed each time they cross the border between DRC and Rwanda to sell their goods.

Recommendations

Our recommendations include ending the war permanently and the implementation of the fourth signed peace agreement.

Regional institutions specifically IGAD and the AU should continue to put pressure on all concerned parties in the conflict in South Sudan to sign an immediate ceasefire, which should be binding, and to punish those who do not abide by the agreements. Furthermore, there is a need to engage on a national healing and reconciliation process, and the invitation of Emeritus Arch-Bishop Tutu to work with South Sudan Churches is highly welcomed by South Sudanese stakeholders we engaged. As well as for the South African government through the embassy in South Sudan to have outreach programmes and stakeholder consultations on the ground.

There is urgent need for rigorous capacity building of women’s CSOs, across South Sudan. Programmes should be established on Long term for CSO to deliver their oversight functions and contribute to the peace process and be part of the decision making so that they claim ownership of the process as they have been compromised by the armed conflict.

The fact that there is no media coverage on the conflict in DRC and in South Sudan, implies that atrocities continued unreported. Therefore media should cover DRC and South Sudan conflict extensively. There is limited media coverage, especially international media houses.

It is important to include women as lead mediators and negotiators in the peace process. The appointment of Dr. Binta Diop as AU’s gender and conflict special envoy is a positive step, and more women should be given the opportunity to serve as lead mediators and negotiators.

It is therefore urgent to popularize the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and other mechanisms to put pressure on Pan African and global leaders for the implementation these UN and AU peace, security and gender equality protocols.

Litlhare Rabele: 0838819095, litlhare@hurisa.org.za

 

 

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