Author: Farirai Sinothando Sibanda
Master’s Candidate, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
It is a gross injustice that disability rights in Africa have previously not been prioritised given that 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries. However, this situation seems to be gaining some attention with most African states having ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) with the exception of three, namely Cameroon, South Sudan and Eritrea. Following this trajectory, in 2018, the African Union (AU) member states adopted the African Disability Protocol which will enter into force after ratification by 15 AU member states. Despite its potential to enhance persons with disabilities’ enjoyment of their rights, as of March 2022, the African Disability Protocol has only been ratified by three countries namely; Mali, Kenya, and Rwanda which is disappointingly low.
The UNCRPD is a key instrument in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities, but it lacks the specificity to the African context. Due to poverty and other issues in Africa, the situation of persons with disabilities, especially women, differs radically from that in other regions. Article 6 of the UNCRPD addresses women in two general provisions by obligating states to protect them from discrimination, ensure enjoyment of their rights and empower them. However, it does not specify the actions that states must take to fulfil these obligations. Resultantly, the UNCRPD does not adequately address the unique situation of persons with disabilities in Africa.Read the rest of this entry »
Author: Shelal Lodhi Rajput
BBA LL. B (Hons.)) candidate at Symbiosis Law School, Pune, India
Some of the greatest concerns for humanity right now, apart from the ongoing pandemic are the problems of climate change, ecocide and the rise of terrorism and jihadist outfits. Following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the threat of radical Islamic terrorism, which has its roots in the Middle East and South Asia, has taken center stage. While these violent religious extremists constitute a small percentage of the population, their danger is real. The International community has not been completely able to neutralise ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). In 2015, ISIS expanded into a network of affiliates in at least eight other countries. Its branches, supporters, and affiliates increasingly carried out attacks beyond the borders of its so-called caliphate. Now once again a ‘new Syria’ is being built in West Africa but the world is ignoring it, world media is not highlighting the plight of the people.
The function of constitutional judges and judicial philosophy in Africa: Introduction to the special issuePosted: 17 December, 2021
Author: Trésor Makunya Muhindo
Postdoctoral Fellow and Publications Coordinator, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria
This special issue is devoted to the function of constitutional judges and judicial philosophy in Africa through the lens of Justice Albie Sachs’ judicial philosophy. It emerges from presentations made by speakers at the virtual book launch of the French translation of Albie Sachs’ book ‘The strange alchemy of life and law’ (2021) organised on 19 November 2021 by the Pretoria University Law Press.
This issue is divided into three main parts. In the first part, Judge Albie Sachs and Emmanuel De Groof provide the background to the translation of the book. The book aims at bridging the divide between the common law and civil law legal traditions that African legal systems inherited through colonialism. The divide between the two legal traditions is so great that it seems African lawyers and judges based in the common law tradition and those from the civil law tradition operate in a completely different world.
The right to food and housing for Internally Displaced Persons in Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): geographical distance does not forcibly mean different situationsPosted: 2 November, 2021
Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg
Author: Juan Pablo Serrano Frattali
Member of research group Social Anthropology of Motricity of the University of Granada
Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are the countries with the largest population of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in South America and Africa, respectively, the third, and the second in the world (Syria heads the world ranking). Internal displacement in Colombia constitutes a widely recognized phenomenon, having become an essential reference point for internal migration studies. At the end of 2020, Colombia counted the highest number of IPDs in South America because of conflict and violence (4.9 million). In 2020, however, while Colombia counted 170,000 new IDPs, 106,000 of whom resulted from conflict and violence, Brazil counted 380,000 new IDPs, all due to natural disasters. Violence continued in Colombia notwithstanding Covid-19 restrictions. Many combatants with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) disbanded and reintegrated into society after the 2016 peace deal, but dissident factions have since emerged, and paramilitary groups continue to exercise significant territorial control. The department of Nariño, close to Ecuador, has been historically a hotspot of conflict and displacement given its strategic location on drug-trafficking routes.
Nigeria is home to over 180 million people, 49.4% of whom are female. Along with the rest of the population, the Nigerian female population will experience dramatic increases in size by 2050. As far as violence against women is concerned, federal law addresses sexual violence, physical violence, psychological violence, harmful traditional practices, and socio-economic violence. The law also cites spousal battery, forceful ejection from the home, forced financial dependence or economic abuse, harmful widowhood practices, female genital mutilation/cutting (“FGM/C”), other harmful traditional practices, substance attacks (such as acid attacks), political violence, and violence by state actors (especially government security forces) as offenses.
A 2019 survey on domestic violence found that 47% of respondents had suffered from domestic violence or knew someone who had; 82% of respondents indicated that violence against women was prevalent in the country. Police often refused to intervene in domestic disputes or blamed the victim for provoking the abuse. In rural areas, courts, and police were reluctant to intervene to protect women who formally accused their husbands of abuse if the level of alleged abuse did not exceed local customary norms.
Child marriages in Zimbabwe and the failure by the State to fulfil its obligations to protect the rights of childrenPosted: 26 August, 2021
Author: Nqobani Nyathi
Researcher, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Recently, there have been reports about a 14-year old child who died during childbirth. The reason why such a tragedy happened and may continue to happen is the State’s failure or unwillingness to eradicate child marriages. This article seeks to outline Zimbabwe’s legislative framework regarding child marriages and its obligations in terms of international law.
The legal position
Child marriage is illegal in Zimbabwe as held by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court. In January 2016, the apex court rightly found that the legislative provisions legalising child marriages were inconsistent with the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The Constitution has fairly strong provisions promoting and protecting the rights of children, including the right to be protected from sexual exploitation or any form of abuse. The Court also observed that historically there has been a “lack of common social consciousness on the problems of girls who became victims of early marriages.”
The fact that child marriages had to be declared illegal through litigation exposes this lack of common social consciousness. Zimbabwe had been clinging to the archaic law legalising the marriage of children in terms of both the Marriage Act 81 of 1964 and the Customary Marriages Act 23 of 1950.
African countries need to ensure that the health of refugees is protected during the COVID-19 pandemicPosted: 21 June, 2021
Author: Omotunde Enigbokan
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
The protection of the right to health for refugees in Africa requires urgent attention, especially in this period when evidence shows that new variants of the coronavirus are spreading. As we celebrate World Refugee Day on 20 June 2021, and against the backdrop of the UNHCR’s theme ‘Together we heal, learn and shine’, it is pertinent that we interrogate how African countries are ensuring that the right to health for refugees, is guaranteed. This is particularly important with the development of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide, and in the onset of the administration of these vaccines in Africa.
Challenges faced by refugees in Africa
Existing research underlines the need for heightening refugees’ access to health facilities. Research further shows that refugees have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. This situation is further compounded by the fact that many refugees live in overpopulated camps or reception centres, where they lack adequate access to health services, clean water and sanitation. This makes them more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.
Author: Thandwa Dlamini
Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria
At the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in 1994, the right to sexual and reproductive health was recognised as the core of development. The right has also been embedded in various conventions, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child where it was established that adolescents have a right to ‘age-appropriate’ sexual and reproductive health information, education, and services that enable them to deal positively and responsibly with their sexuality. However, these agreements have not been fully and effectively implemented in Africa mainly because the policies of most African countries are framed on the basis of religious morality which pushes the unrealistic agenda of abstinence. As a result, a line between impermissible age discrimination and legitimate protection of minors has been difficult to draw in young adolescents’ sexual relations. This article argues that there is a need to direct attention to the issues involved in consensual relations among young adolescents, in tandem with other strategies that work towards giving them full sexual autonomy whilst curtailing unsafe, risky health outcomes and violence.
Author: Kwasi Asiedu Abrokwah
Operational Supervisor, Prime Legacy Construction Pty; Communications Director, The Great People of South Africa
Gender-based violence (GBV) is defined as violence that is directed against a person on the basis of their gender or sex, including acts that inflict physical, mental, or sexual harm (intimate partner violence or non-intimate partner violence), suffering threats of such acts, coercion and deprivations of liberty. According to the United Nations Women’s Organisation (UNWomen), it is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. In the West African region, Liberia, Cote d´Ivoire and Sierra Leone are examples of countries where GBV were used as weapons of war. GBV has been a huge problem in Africa where women and children are violated by men. GBV occurs in various forms, including femicide, female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence and kidnapping. It may also occur in the form of socio-economic violence, including discrimination and denial of opportunities or services on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation.