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Human Rights Day in South Africa

Commemoration of the Sharpeville Massacre

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) joins the people of South Africa, the Government and National Institutions and the rest of the world in commemorating the Sharpeville Massacre of
69 Black people and over 150 injured in a peaceful assembly protesting against the discriminatory pass laws enforced to Black people by the apartheid regime.

This day remains relevant in many ways to shape our human rights trajectory as a nation. It has contributed immensely to the fundamental rights entrenched in the Constitution for citizens’ conduct in assemblies, expressing themselves and part-taking in associations of their own choice. However, implementation of these rights is reminiscent of the events of the Sharpeville Massacre, due to gross human rights violations by several high-ranking government officials and uncaring, ruthless law enforcement.

Freedoms of assembly, expression and association were denied to the people both in constitutional prescripts and practice during the apartheid era. This situation was bound to change after a peaceful democratic state was ushered into the new dispensation of South Africa, in 1994.

In the Twenty-Eight Years (28) of human rights and democratic environment, the majority of the disadvantaged communities, who are mainly black are still at this day and age, living in appalling conditions that are a perpetual physical and environmental menace to community health and wellness. They are expected to endure and be complicit in their own demise, and in the name of loyalty to the cause of freedom delivered by the ruling party, suffer in silence and repeatedly participate in denigrating democracy by ignoring the societal needs when it comes to them practicing their voting rights. Appeasing the oligarchic political parties that continue to prey on the weak and poor through state-based corruption and embezzlement of service delivery reserves that leave the electorate barely managing dignity and decency. As the nation goes further on in years, the deeper the democracy gets eroded, the deeper to the bone that inequality and poverty gets to grind into the integrity of the people who lived through and fought for the end to the heinous inhumane system of apartheid government. It has just changed masters the enslavement is just the same, with no progress made to develop the communities with adequate housing, infrastructure for electricity, communication, adequate and quality water and sanitation. The tale of rural schools and the accidents brought about by the poorly constructed pit latrines continues to shamefully label the marginalised masses as stepchildren of this democracy so shamelessly being weaponized against the poor. Rural settlements, townships and informal settlement dwellers continue to live in abject poverty and experience high levels of unemployment. Citizens continue to face the hostile law enforcement for expressing their views and exposing trends of corruption with impunity, inhumane and degrading environments and poor service delivery. Many lives have been lost in demonstrations, and the reality of abductions, extra judicial killings is increasing instilling fear, shrink the democratic space for free and independent operation of civil society, human rights defenders to monitor and hold the government accountable for infringement of constitutional and legislative frameworks.

This environment of bad governance, intolerance to human rights and reprisals has found place in a human rights and democratic space. Regulations of Gatherings Act 205, adopted in 1993 is enforced besides its conflict with the human rights safeguarded in the constitution. The Act requires a notice for conducting protests. The Constitutional Court has unanimous ruled that protesters do not have to notify local authorities before gatherings or demonstrations. This Constitutional Court judgment has laid a framework for reform of the RGA to align with constitutional imperatives allowing the exercise of this right. But the law enforcement has not altered the aggressive behavior to citizen’s participation in assemblies. This is not the dark era where marches, protests, demonstrations and pickets were prohibited and enforced by a discriminatory and injustice policy. There is no reason for subjecting the citizens to the past horror and traumatic events in a democracy.

This human rights month coincides with International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, observed on 21 March. This stems from the outcome of the World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances. South Africa hosted the third World Conference on Racism in 2001 and concluded with the Durban Declaration on Programmee of Action. The Declaration calls for State Parties to enact laws or strengthen national policies and administrative practices to counter racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner is at the forefront of campaigns for elimination of racism and racial discrimination in the world. The High Commissioner sponsored a myriad of activities over the period, July – December 2021 under the campaign theme “A world beyond racism focusing on the People of African Descent, given the International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024”.

The resurfacing of xenophobia in South Africa in 2008 among disadvantaged communities affecting the low skilled migrants, asylum seekers, refugees accused for “monopolizing the employment space” for promoting and sponsoring criminality, the arbitrary conducts introducing quotas for prioritising South Africans with a view of addressing illegal immigrants is regressive. South Africa had at some point made ground-breaking progress at the international political arena promoting rights of People of African Descent. This commemoration of the Sharpeville Massacre provides the opportunity to defend the rights enshrined in the constitution, equally harmonises South Africa obligations at international and regional levels. This International Decade for People of African Descent was designed for the realisation of the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of the people of African descent and their full participation in the society.

OHCHR champions promotion of the International Decade under the theme Recognition, Justice and Development encouraging States to end prejudices, hatred, racial discrimination against people of African descent.

We are calling on the Government to do the following;
1.Initiate open dialogue and processes for amendment of the Regulations of the Gathering Act to give effect to rights guaranteed in the Constitution as ruled out by the Constitutional Court, reaffirming the strong protection overriding impeding legislation against protests without requirement of a notice, and the police duty to facilitate marches, protests, demonstrations, pickets
2.Encourage all in South Africa to unite and counter racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, through the adopted five-year National Action Plan on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Intolerance, 2019- 2024.
3.Increase collaboration with civil society with concrete actions to tackle the increasing xenophobic attacks, fear, hatred, violence in the country by vigilante groups, movements, and opposition parties that claim their act is for the best interest of South Africans.
4.Protect civil society including CBOs, human rights defenders, economic and environmental activists, peace builders, gender based activists environment operate in enabling environments free of reprisals, abductions, extra judicial killings.
5.Create public platform for diverse dialogues and engagements strengthening democracy, human rights, equality, dignity, and prevalence of rule of law.

Furthermore, HURISA encourages;
1.Unity among the diverse communities in the country and integration of migrants in the society.
2.We encourage human rights training for enhancement of law enforcement capacities to execute their duties with the highest standards and required professionalism. Police should carry their duties unobstructed, not undermined by any group (s) from civil society and arrest the suspects of human rights violations, including, those assuming duties to remove migrants from trading in local markets and businesses.
3.We call the Department of Economic Development, to work with the SAPS, local municipalities, civil society, affected communities to tackle the deepening lawlessness and apprehend the suspects of human rights violations.

We are calling civil society, peace builders and human rights defenders to;
1.Promote the Sharpeville Massacre – Human Rights Day to build a culture of human rights,
International Day for Elimination of racial Discrimination, International Day of African Descent 2025- 2024 to promote peace, justice, equality and human dignity in communities, across the country and in the SADC region.
2.Monitor & evaluate the progress and impact of implementation of the Sharpeville Massacre, International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination and exchange of lessons, best practice models in 2024 for acceleration in tacking challenges facing People of African Descent.

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Category: Media statement

Comments Off on Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) join the rest of the people ‘s of Africa in commemoration Africa Day on 25 May 2021.

The significance of Africa Day and celebration on 25 May 1963 is because of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, (OAU) the predecessor of the African Union. The objective of the OAU remain vital in the post colonisation period, to build the Africa we want based on unity, socio economic integration, freedom from wars and imperialism. During the 21st Ordinary Assembly of the AU held on 26 May 2013, the foundation of OAU observed 50 years that culminated in Agenda 2063 proposed for achievement of substantive goals in the next 50 years. Agenda 2063 is described as a blueprint action plan of the Continent and was adopted in 2015. The blueprint action plan encompasses economic development, poverty eradication within one generation, political integration, improvement in democracy and justice, consolidation of peace and security, strengthening cultural diversity, through an African Renaissance, and Pan-African ideals, gender equality, and political independence from foreign powers. The AU declared the year 2021 as the year of Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want. A Statement of His Excellency Amb Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs , Peace and Security, African Union Commission presented at the NGO Forum preceding the 68th Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s highlight the importance of the role of arts, culture and heritage in advancing our common vision sets in Agenda 2063, particularly for the realization of Aspiration 3 which stand for an Africa of Good Governance, respect for Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law and Aspiration 4 which stands for a peaceful and secured Africa as promoted by the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security. He also encouraged AU Member States to incorporate objectives of this theme in national frameworks.

We would like to find out the impact of AU Agenda 2063 and how the year 2021 theme contributes to the lived realities of citizens of the continent especially, in using Arts, Culture Heritage to improve the livelihoods in poor communities. The outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic and strict preventative measures have exacerbated living conditions in disadvantaged communities with no infrastructure developed for clean water, sanitation, adequate housing to prevent overcrowding, and maintain social distancing. Many African communities are endowed with minerals and natural resources. However, preservation of the Continent natural wealth is for the benefit of multinational corporations, regardless of AU policies promoting protection of peoples against foreign exploitation. The history of the struggle for human rights in South Africa resulted with a constitutional democracy gained through bloodshed sacrifices. Although it is hailed as the best in the world, majority of people are yet to realise the fruit of democracy. We are proud of the legacy of our heroes, Tata Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, and herons like Charlotte Maxeke whom the country has dedicated the year 2021, were brave to fight injustice, discrimination, women and safe democratic civic space. We need to continue raising voices for promotion and protection of human rights. This is the dividend of our heritage we should all benefit in South Africans, especially from disadvantaged communities. The fight against repressive policies, prohibition of freedom of association, assemble and expression contributed immensely in entrenching fundamental values in the constitution. As we commemorate Africa Day, the 2021 theme provide the opportunity to reflect on the impact of our history, including arts, culture and heritage, and how this rich heritage can be used to transform situations of citizens living in rural communities, informal settlements and townships.

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Hon. Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso – Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
Mr. Marcel Akpovo – Director of the Eastern Africa Regional Office of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR);
Mr. Andrew Chigovera, Chair, African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS) Governing Council;
Ms. Corlett Letlojane – NGOs Forum Steering Committee
Distinguish representatives of NGOs;
Ladies and Gentlemen, All protocol observed.

It is an honour and indeed my pleasure to have been invited to deliver the opening statement on this special occasion. I am aware that the aims of this Forum is to consolidate collaboration between and among NGOs to enhance partnership with the African human rights mechanisms for the Africa we want as stipulated in the African Union Agenda 2063, and is being held this year on the theme “The Africa We Want: the Role of Arts, Culture And Heritage in the Realization of Human Rights And Democracy in a Post Covid-19 Environment”. I am particularly please, because this Theme is aligned with the African Union Theme of the year 2021 “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want” Ladies and Gentlemen, By declaring the year 2021 as the year of “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”, the AU is putting spotlight on the importance of Arts, Culture and Heritage and is calling all departments, AU 3 Organs and AU Member States to ensure that this theme is highlighted in their respective work, not just this year but forever. The AU is mindful of the role of arts, culture and heritage in advancing our common vision sets in Agenda 2063, particularly for the realization of Aspiration 3 which stand for an Africa of Good Governance, respect for Human Rights, Justice and Rule of Law and Aspiration 4 which stands for a peaceful and secured Africa as promoted by the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security. Being called to share the role of our Pan-African organization, the African Union, in furthering the role of arts, culture and heritage in the realization of human rights and democracy in Africa, I wish to highlight that, it is often artists, experts and cultural professionals who point out the existence of a problem, who reveal uncomfortable truths, who reveal the unspoken, or who make the invisible visible. Using their artistic and cultural means, they create spaces for societal debate both within and outside the ordinary framework of political discourse and social networks.

In terms of cultural rights, all people have to enjoy the right to freedom of artistic expression and creation, which includes the right to freely attend and contribute to artistic expressions and creations, through individual or collective practice, the right to access the arts and the right to disseminate their expressions and creations. This implies the right to access, participate and contribute to cultural life. Indeed, this is strongly considered throughout many legal instrument of the African Union to ensure that Art, culture and Heritage plays a role in the realization of our continental Agenda 2063 in building the Africa we want. These instrument include, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the child, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance; the Revised AU Plan of Action on Cultural and Creative Industries, just to mention a few. In view of the foregoing, and in line with major regional, continental and international instruments including: the ECOWAS resolution on the return of illicitly trafficked cultural goods, and the UNESCO decision of July 2020, the 4 AU is engaged on combatting illicit trafficking in cultural goods. In this regard, the need to promote negotiations for the restitution of illegally trafficked and stolen cultural goods from the continent should be enhanced.

Ladies and Gentlemen, With regard to the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, The African Union has drafted a Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 response underpinned by coordination, collaboration, cooperation and communication and a Comprehensive Socio-Economic Response which are centred at developing appropriated approaches for human security, using cultural workers,

including musicians, film-makers, actors and writers as advocacy agents for good and inclusive health and wellness.Nelson Mandela said ones that “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” And our Humanity is printed in our African cultural value which is guided by the Ubuntu Philosophy ‘I AM because you are; You are because I Am.’ The promotion and protection of Cultural rights is our collective responsibility and together we can move things better I declared the NGO Forum opened and wish you all a fruitful deliberation.

I thank you for your attention

Comments Off on Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) Calls South Africa to end the killings of individuals and citizens participating in assemblies and ensure realisation of their right to life, through enabling environment as constitutionally guaranteed

The Right to Freedom of Assembly, Demonstration, Picket and Petition is a public participatory mechanism, guaranteed in Section 17 of South Africa’s Constitution. HURISA is outraged by the inconsistent management of law and order by Public Order Policing within the South African Police Services (SAPS), particularly, in dispersing protesters in gatherings.  The random firing of stunt grenades to people in protests is not a new phenomenon in South Africa. It persistent in the past and even in a democratic dispensational environment.

Before 1994 demonstrations were prohibited in South Africa. While Regulations of Gathering Act passed in 1993 is the first legislative regime to recognise the people’s right to expression of frustrations, through gatherings. However, the Act contain certain provisions that restrict number of people participating in a gathering to 15. It also requires advance notification of a gathering less than 15 and to obtain authorisation for a gathering intending to have more than 15 participants. The RGA has brought little change to the aspired freedom enabling citizens to express their frustration and demand change through government attention to their pressing needs. Most peaceful protests in South Africa often turn violent mainly to among others, POP enforcement of restrictive legislative provisions. However, HURISA has noted double standards in managing certain political protests convened for big crowds that POP seem to manage well without undue violence or protesters being forced to disperse. This is witnessed even during this difficult era of the pandemic, where health protocols are blatantly breached. Understandably, convenors of these kind of protests notify municipalities in advance.

HURISA is perplexed by this inconsistence and see history in repetition where, gatherings, assemblies, protests were prohibited during the dark apartheid era. This unequal and discriminatory practice resulted terribly with the Sharpeville Massacre on 21 March 1960, left over 68 people murdered and 189 injured across the country.

As we observe the 61st Anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre a review of impact of Human Rights Month observed over 27 years and how to deliver the suppressed rights during the past laws. How do we justify respect of human rights in commemoration of Human Rights Month, when foundation of our democracy is constantly undermined, especially in the unfair treatment of the poor and historically marginalised with impunity?

South Africa is a State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which observe its 40th Anniversary of adoption on 28 June 2021. South Africa has also contributed immensely towards adoption and entry into force of the African Union Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance, which promotes consolidation of democracy, human rights, and public participation. The African Charter safeguard the people’s right to freedom of assembly under Article 11. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly in 2017, encouraging Member States to develop progressive legislative frameworks aligned to promotion and protection of right to assembly.

HURISA is calling the Government to review restrictive provisions contained in the RGA as handed by the progressive Constitutional Court Judgement in 2018 and do the following:

  • Protect the individual and citizens right to life in the country, by ending the brutal killings of individual and citizens, ensuring their attainment of the right to freedom of assembly, the right to picket and present petitions through development of progressive legislative framework founded on human rights-based approaches, harmonising the constitutional dispensation and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly.
  • Compliance with the AU Charter on Elections, Democracy and Government, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by ensuring creation of enabling environment for public participation, freedom of expression and assembly without fear of reprisals.
  • Utilise the Human Rights Month to honour the sacrifices of our heroes and herons for their bravery in fighting against brutal regime that constantly fired guns to most of the people protesting against impunity and human rights violations.
  • Sensitise law enforcement, including SAPS, POP, Municipal Police from local provincial to national level and stakeholders involved in public order management with national, regional, and international human rights mechanisms promoting freedom of assembly.
  • Promote education and safeguarded right to life as non derogable in the Constitution and create enabling environment for individuals and citizen participation in democracy, decision making processes without fear of reprisals, arbitrary arrests, extra judicial killings for demanding implementation of constitutional rights.
  • Ensure IPID and any other national institution investigating impunity, brutality and misconduct of officials conduct their constitutional and legislative mandate independently without fear, favour, and prejudice.
  • Arrest, prosecute the suspects of human rights violations of individuals and citizens exercising rights to freedom of assembly and ensure victims and survivors of these violations are adequately compensated from enduring these heinous atrocities.


Category: Media statement

Comments Off on The Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) joins voices from all corners of the world to commemorate International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on 8 March globally. The global UN Women theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in the COVID-19 world “the theme is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights and commemorates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women in shaping the history of their countries and community. This theme also aligns with the 65th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, “women in public life, equal participation in decision making and the flagship Generation Equality Campaign, which calls for women’s rights in decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care work and domestic work, and end all forms of violence against women and girls, and health-care services that respond to their needs.

Despite ordinary women unveiling their capacities and being at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis as healthcare workers, women human rights defenders, woman activists, care givers, community organisers, innovators and scientists still face challenges in being part of leadership and decision making. Men outpace women in leadership roles across every sector in the world  from corporate, non-profit, government, education, medicine, military and religion due to gender based stereotypes influenced by the cultural value dimensions and structural barriers. In South Africa there is enabling legislation such as Chapter 2 of the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa that recognizes the enjoyment of equal human rights for all. However women continue to experience gender based discrimination because of the patriarchal society that wrongly portray men as the only ones who are able to lead and this has limited their ability to exercise their rights and freedoms. As the COVID-19 global gripped the world, it soon became clear that COVID-19 exacerbated the existing vulnerabilities of women, LGBTIQ+ women, displaced migrants, refugee, people with disabilities and elderly person. The crisis highlighted the increase risk in:

  • Gender-based violence and femicide
  • Unemployment
  • Greater burden of domestic and care work
  • Reduced financial independence and future prospects
  • Frontline health workforce
  • Reduced access to health services and exclusion from potential COVID-19 treatments.
  • Police brutality
  • Harmful cultural practices

In light of these disturbing atrocities, we are able to hold unto hope that change can be achieved by electing more women in national and global policy spaces. Include more female voices at every table where decisions are being made to create a government that is gender responsive in achieving gender equality. In South Africa we acknowledge Phumzile Mlambo – Ngcuka who was the first Deputy President of South Africa from 2005-2008. In the UN Women statement, she emphasised the need for women’s representation that reflect all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations without being intimidated into silence and submissions. Another example that has been set for young black women was the inauguration of the first (1st) Black, South Asian American and first woman vice president Kamala Harris. This it to say we have come a long way to give up now, I quote Shirley Chisholm the first Black US Congresswoman once said:” if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”  It is time to encourage young women and girls to not limit themselves but to claim their space in leadership and decision-making positions. We call for young feminists across the world to embrace the unlimited possibilities that this life may bring.

This year on International Women’s Day we choose to challenge systematic barriers and inequality. We choose to challenge poverty. We choose to challenge unemployment. What do you choose to challenge?

Cathy E Kodiemoka


HURISA’s details

Telephone: +27 11 4921103, Mobile: +27 72 358 8611,

Website:, Email:


Category: Media statement

Comments Off on Press statement on unlawful killings by security forces in Nigeria

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), through its Country Rapporteur for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, the Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa, Commissioner Maria Teresa Manuela, and the Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa, Commissioner Ndiamé Gaye, is following with deep concern and growing alarm the reports of excessive use of lethal force against protesters in Nigeria and the resultant loss of lives and injuries.

The Commission expresses its shock about the widely reported human rights violations perpetrated in the context of the use by Nigerian military of live ammunition against protesters in the Lekki Toll Gate area of Lagos on 20 October 2020 resulting in the regrettable and unnecessary killing of an unknown number of people and bodily injury to others. The Commission reiterates its strong condemnation of these killings and the acts of excessive use of force, endangering various rights guaranteed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) including the rights to life, bodily integrity, freedom of assembly and the right to peaceful protests. The Commission also condemns in the strongest terms the prevention by the military of access by emergency medical personnel who sought to provide medical assistance and rescue those who sustained injuries during the operation by the military unit.

The Commission underscores that the resort to undue use of force against protesters, in the current context of expression of outrage by protesters against the perpetration of brutalities and abuse by law enforcement and security institutions, only exacerbates an already tense situation and cannot be the answer to the legitimate demands of protestors for an end to police brutalities, for accountability, and for reform of security institutions and governance in Nigeria.

The Commission is also concerned that criminal actors and other opportunist elements may exploit the situation, thereby endangering the peace and stability of Nigeria if the situation is not resolved urgently through amicable process within the framework of applicable human rights standards and principles. The Commission notes with serious concern the escalation of acts of violence, incidents of lootings and attacks on property by non-state actors taking advantage of the prevailing tense situation in the context of the protest that has been ongoing since early October.

The Commission welcomes the steps taken by Nigerian authorities. The Commission encourages the Government of Nigeria to build on the steps it has taken earlier, including the dissolution of SARS and announcements of the establishment of commissions of inquiry both at Federal and States levels, for listening to the voices of the protesting youth and addressing their grievances. While the Commission recognizes the need for upholding law and order, it underscores the human rights imperative of ensuring that force is used only as a last resort measure and in compliance with the principles of proportionality and necessity.

Given the deterioration of the situation in Nigeria, the Commission calls on the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to:
1. Take immediate action against the military unit that was involved in the use of live ammunition against protestors and initiate urgently transparent and independent investigation into the reported excessive use of force that led to death and injury at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos;
2. Take further appropriate measures for the de-escalation of the situation by withdrawing military forces deployed for policing the situation and end the use of the military forces in the enforcement of curfews;
3. Heed the call by the Commission and others for ensuring that security institutions do not resort to the use lethal force as a means of policing protests and carry out the policing of assemblies and enforcement of law and order in full compliance with the principles of minimum use of force as a last resort measure, necessity, precaution and proportionality as provided for in the Commission’s Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly;
4. Initiate a process for amicable resolution of the situation by giving due hearing to the voices of the protesting youth and based on applicable human rights standards and principles as a necessary measure for averting any threat to the peace and security of Nigeria and depriving criminal actors and other opportunist elements from exploiting the situation to the detriment of the stability of Nigeria; and

5. Implement the measures for comprehensive reform of law enforcement and security institutions in Nigeria proposed in the Commission’s statement of 14 October 2020 based on consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including the youth and civil society, with a view to make the laws, doctrine, training and practice of law enforcement and security institutions conform with human rights norms.
The Commission reiterates its readiness to accompany Nigeria in its effort to ensure compliance with the standards of the African Charter by its law enforcement institutions.

Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso
Country Rapporteur for the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Commissioner Maria Teresa Manuela
Special Rapporteur on Prisons, Conditions of Detention and Policing in Africa

Commissioner Ndiamé Gaye
Chairperson of the Working Group on Death Penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa
22 October 2020

Category: Media statement

Comments Off on Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the human rights situation in Tanzania

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission), through the Country Rapporteur for the United Republic of Tanzania, Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Commissioner Jamesina King, and the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa, Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu, is following the situation in the United Republic of Tanzania relating to recent developments affecting various areas of human and peoples’ rights in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the lead-up to the 2020 national elections.

The Commission is concerned by the amendment of the Basic Rights and Duties (Enforcement) Act (Cap. 3 of the Revised Laws of Tanzania) in June 2020, which restricts the filing of cases before Tanzanian courts in the interest of the public. This goes against the progressive constitutional right of every person to take legal action to ensure the protection of the Constitution and the laws of the land.

The African Commission’s Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa of 2000, stipulate that States must ensure that any individual, group of individuals or nongovernmental organization is entitled to bring a human right claim before a judicial body for determination, because such claims are matters of public concern. The removal of public interest litigation represents a major regression, that reverses the implementation by Tanzania of an important means of protecting constitutional democracy and a key avenue for securing the rights of vulnerable groups lacking the capacity and financial resources to bring their own cases before the courts.

The Commission also wishes to express its concern about reports reaching it, highlighting undue limitations on civil society, journalists and the media, including the prolonged detention in remand of accused journalists. In this respect, the Commission is particularly concerned about the reported revocation in June 2020 of the operating license of Tanzania Daima newspaper, the suspension of Kwanza Online TV in July 2020 for 11 months for reporting on the country’s COVID-19 situation and the prohibition of local languages from being used in broadcasting media.

The Commission reiterates that the right to information that forms part of Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter) is critical in the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic as underscored in ACHPR Resolution 449. The Commission further confirms the right of groups to use of their language, and that limitations may only be placed on expressions of hate speech and incitement to violence, but not on the language of communication.

The Commission is also concerned by reports of threats to and intimidation of opposition politicians, including in the context of the electoral process. The Commission in this regard reaffirms the right of every citizen under Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), to participate freely in the government of his or her country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives. As pointed out in its Statement on Elections in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic of 22 July 2020, people should have full guarantees to be able to express their sovereign will by participating freely in the electoral process. The existence of an even playing field that allows all parties and candidates to campaign for and seek the vote of the electorate is also critical for free and fair elections that are in accordance with Articles 13 and 20 of the African Charter.
In this regard, the Commission:
1.Urges the Government of Tanzania to reverse both the amendment of the Basic Rights and Duties (Enforcement) Act (Cap. 3 of the Revised Laws of Tanzania) in line with the African Commission’s Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, and the law that imposes a blanket ban on the use of local languages for broadcasting media;

2.Calls on the Government of Tanzania to allow democratically elected leaders in opposition parties to fulfil their democratic functions free from undue restrictions and to ensure that all the necessary safeguards are in place for conducting the elections, both in protecting the health and safety of voters, officials and observers, and in ensuring that the elections are conducted in a free environment in which the electorate can express its will freely and all candidates are guaranteed an even playing field to freely campaign for and seek the vote of the electorate;
3.Requests the Government of Tanzania to ensure that regulatory measures and actions of State agents are in accord with the right to freedom of expression and access to information under Article 9 of the African Charter as elaborated in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa; and
4.Calls on the Government of Tanzania to ensure that the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time and before an impartial tribunal, as required by Article 7 (d) of the African Charter is duly complied with.
5.The Commission remains actively seized of the human rights situation in Tanzania leading up to the national elections on 28 October 2020.

Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso,
Chairperson of the Commission and Country Rapporteur for the United Republic of Tanzania

Commissioner Jamesina King,
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information

Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu,
Vice Chairperson of the Commission and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and Focal Point on Reprisals in Africa

Category: Media statement

Comments Off on Africa Human Rights Day – 21 October 2020

#Your Robust Voice # End Violence, Conflicts, Wars, Prevention of Genocide!
Africa Human Rights Day is observed annually in October to mark the entry into force of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (African Charter) adopted in June 1981. The African Charter entered into force on 21 October 1986 making it a legally binding human rights instrument to State Parties after ratification and enforceable at national level. This date was declared as the Africa Human Rights Day by the African Union (formerly Organisation of African Unity, OAU). As we observe this milestone achievement, the AU Theme for 2020 is Silencing the Guns. This is aligned to the AU Agenda 2063 to end wars, civil conflicts, gender based violence and prevention of genocide in the Continent.

It is also a year that marks the end of the African Women’s Decade from 2010-2020 on Grassroots Approach to Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. We are reflecting on how the AU theme of silencing the guns has impacted on people’s lives at local level and if Africa Human Rights system is making progress in transforming the people of this continent from conflict to realisation of human dignity, peace, justice, accountability, equality from the grass roots. Guns have maimed, murdered, destroyed livelihoods of our people. How is Silencing of Guns, African Women Decade on Women will make meaning impact in ending wars, conflicts and prevent genocide when;

•DRC is going through a silent holocaust while the world watches!
•Nigeria, soldiers are shooting at peaceful protesters while the world watches!
•Cameroon, Anglophone Cameroonians are slain by the government security agents while the word watches!
•South Africa, there is disproportionate corruption, human trafficking, gender-based violence and femicide. Am I next? are you next?!!!!
•Zimbabwe, there is exacerbation of torture, forced disappearances, persecution of civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalist, corruption, irrational judiciary with impunity, while the world watches.

•Zambia is sliding towards authoritarianism, corruption, rising censorship, crackdown on free speech and oppositions of public activities. There is also excessive use of force in quelling any form of protest by the state security agents, while the world watches.
•Tanzania the disturbing pre-election violence, persecution of citizens, HRDs and journalists.
•Mozambique, the mysterious and faceless insurgency causing internal displacements, cruelty and homelessness in Cabo Delgado province in the northern Mozambique. While the world watches and the President of the country is the current Chairperson of the SADC.
African citizens, the tax payers contributing to economy of their countries are suffering in a bleeding continent, because of the senseless war crimes, crimes against humanity that can be described as genocide!

Justice for Africa! Enough is Enough!


Category: Media statement

16 June 2020

Comments Off on 16 June 2020

The June month is dedicated to commemoration of the SOWETO uprising that took place on 16 June 1976. It was led by school children protesting against the introduction of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in South African Schools by the apartheid regime. The apartheid regime enforced a separate development system to maintain supremacy of the minority over the majority. This was with a view to sustain segregation, suppression of political right for black people, inequality, promotion of inhuman and degrading treatment of black people with impunity! All laws, policies, programmes, plans and strategies promoted injustice and exclusion of the majority. The youth of 1976 are remembered for their bravery in organising a historical protest to confront a heavily armed state security with lethal grenades, tear gas, preventing them from expressing their views against inferior education system! School children across SOWETO townships joined the protest to resist lessons to be taught in Afrikaans. This dark day ended with many youth massacred, injured, arbitrarily arrested and many skipped the country in fear of reprisals, extra judicial killings targeting youth leaders and organisers of the march.

This year commemoration of the youth month coincide with efforts to combat an invisible new novel coronavirus which is affecting the global community. The government has placed the nation under lockdown with restrictive measures to contain the pandemic. These include maintenance of hygiene, regular washing of hands with safe water, soap, sanitising and social distancing. These measures are set to save lives of citizens from contacting the virus! The country completed alerts levels 5, 4 and commenced alert level 3 on 1 June 2020. Although this level eased some regulations allowing movement of people, the public is still required to observe hygiene protocols and ensure compliance to curb the virus, including washing of hands with safe water, social distancing, scanning and tracking of infected people, sanitising, especially in public & private lives. The Department of Basic Education had reported it’s preparedness and readiness to reopen schools and learners to assume classes as from 1 June 2020. However, many schools are not adequately prepared to implement the protocol set to prevent COVID 19. There are schools without infrastructure for safe water, sanitation and still using pit toilets. HURISA has been monitoring the situation closely in collaboration with it’s Human Rights Forum and Youth Economic & Social network.

A petition was issued with recommendations to DBE protect the health and well-being of all children. Dates for reopening schools has been postponed to 8 June 2020. We are concerned that many schools might not be ready to reopen on 8 June 2020 living behind many disadvantaged children from learning!

We are calling the DBE to protect the rights of all children in South Africa and prioritise the needs in disadvantaged schools particularly to ensure all school adhere to protocols adopted to curb coronavirus. Provide adequate assistance to these schools to enable them practice hygiene, including washing hands regularly with safe water and soap, sanitisers, with safe and healthy sanitation and keeping social distance to avoid overcrowding in classes.

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Comments Off on On 1 May 2020, Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) issued Statement for observation of International Workers Day – 1 May Workers Day

The global community was caught unexpected by a daunting epidemic that is plunging humanity unabated worldwide. Sadly, this invisible is spreading fast around the world by physical interaction with people, gathering of people, and movement of people. COVID 19 has claimed lives of nearly a quarter million of people. It has devastated families, destroying the sacrosanct cultural practices known to have existed for many generations performed to honour the dead and to pay last respects. It has overwhelmed health systems, institutions, health workers, scientists, physicians, and pharmacists. The ongoing scenarios are holding the world at ransom. It has left world leaders with difficult decisions to make for saving lives. The commercial activities of countries are heavily overburdened and business is intensively affected. With movement of people constrained. Spirits are low, worship in churches, temples, mosques is prohibited, and schools are closed even sports. Only a few qualifying as essential service providers are permitted to open.

The pandemic impacts severely on livelihoods in vulnerable communities mostly surviving as informal traders. They face further risks in working in insecure environments with no fringe benefits like thirteenth cheques or bonuses, insurance, medical health care, pension fund or housing. It is an area where the true meaning of survival of the fittest and living from hand to mouth is a lived experience. It is sad that the harsh environments in which income is generated mostly affect Africans who voted African leadership in power. This picture is always dismissed by shifting blame on the legacy of economic inequalities. The question is how many billions and trillions of Rands meant for uplifting Africans disappeared under the noses of our own government with living conditions having worsened in communities, townships and the constantly mushrooming squatter camps. There is no way that workers living in such deplorable conditions can contribute to the wellbeing of people, including protecting their lives and practicing hygiene.

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Category: Media statement