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10 May 2024 - 20:03

By Tshepo Madlingozi and Allan Tumbo

On Wednesday the Grand Chamber at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will hear the case of Caster Semenya v Switzerland. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has been granted leave to intervene in the matter as a third-party intervener, or friend of the court. The case before the Grand Chamber was referred by Switzerland after the judgment handed down by the ECHR in July 2023. The judgment found in favour of Semenya, indicating that her rights, as enshrined in the European Convention for Human Rights, to non-discrimination, respect for private life, and to an effective remedy had been violated.
24 March 2024

IT IS WIDELY established that human rights are indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. Similarly, consensus exists that water is the source of all life and therefore the right to water is the force that sustains the intrinsic connectedness of all human rights.

However, in South Africa this vital right is under siege due substantially to neglected infrastructure.The nation is grappling with a growing crisis as the availability of this essential resource increasingly diminishes – leading to inequalities
and adversities. The unfolding crisis is on full display in the rising number of community protests against water shortages. In the province of KwaZulu-Natal, communities living in the eThekwini Metropolitan are particularly despondent with increasing reports of water protests. In recent months, there have been increased protest action in areas such as Phoenix, KwaXimba, Verulam, KwaNyuswa and oThongathi, among others.
By Philile Ntuli

11 Feb 2024

Philile Ntuli is a commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission.

The relentless attacks on the lives and credentials of black women in positions of authority could, if not scrutinised, pose a challenge to the extent to which affirmative action, equity and diversity programmes are lauded.

The resignation of Prof Claudine Gay from the position of president of Harvard University – only six months into her tenure – resonated wretchedly for many historically and currently marginalised people and communities across the world. Prof Gay is the first black, and second woman president in Harvard University’s 400-year history.
21 Nov 2023

By Eileen Carter

As a national human rights institution (NHRI), the commitment of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to upholding human rights is unwavering. However, the landscape in which we advocate for these rights is evolving at an unprecedented pace, a phenomenon which was highlighted during the recent EU Disinfolab Conference in Krakow, Poland.

In this age of disinformation, where misinformation and fake news can spread like wildfire, our role as defenders of human rights has never been more critical. There is a need to apply a generational human rights approach to tackle the intersection of disinformation and the rise of generative AI.
2022 Census showed more than 8.7% of households did not have access to piped water

08 November 2023

By Philile Ntuli and Peacemore Mhodi

All living beings, including humans, animals and plants, are constituted mainly by water and require water to sustain their existence.

The human body is composed of 70% water and requires sustained access to clean water to remain alive. Indigenous communities globally revere the divinity, femininity and fertility of water. In Zulu cosmology, water manifests through Nomkhubulwane, the goddess of rain, harvest and fertility. Recognising this, myriad international, regional and domestic conventions, including the constitution, affirm the indispensability of the right to water for the purposes of leading a dignified life.
07 October 2023

By Wisani Baloyi

Our children live in a world that presents them with many challenges that they have to navigate. In South Africa, girls are impregnated by teachers and older men, get bullied, discriminated against in schools based on their religion and culture, navigate ukuthwala cultural practice (abducting a girl to force her family to endorse marriage negotiations), racism, violence, drug abuse, gangsterism and other societal ills which pry on their vulnerabilities.
23 September 2023

As the country celebrates Heritage Day, there is a greater need to introspect on the meaning of heritage in today’s context. This is 2023, not 1994 when the majority of South Africans were marching on the same line inspired by the dawn of democracy and the Madiba magic. There was unity in the need to reach the common goal of building the spirit of ubuntu (humanity), hence the term or slogan “united in our diversity” was coined.
10 September 2023

By Wisani Baloyi

Access to land, land rights and the subject of land in South Africa is a key topical issue which continues to be debated in many forums. It evokes emotions and reminds the country of the painful past in which black people were deprived of this source of life. Indeed, as many have rightfully put it, land is life.

By Commissioner Philile Ntuli:

30 April 2023

Having inherited systemic fragmentation, deep racial divides, massive socio-economic and service delivery inequalities – the local government sphere has faced great challenges in promoting human rights, addressing past backlogs and spatial distortions, and planning for a sustainable future, writes Philile Ntuli.

Across all locales of South African society, there is a general sense of discontent regarding service delivery in general, and the performance of municipal institutions specifically.

By Dr Eileen Carter

12 March 2023

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a growing concern in South Africa, and the rise of the internet and social media has only amplified the problem. During the state of the nation address in February this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa again called on individuals, institutions and leaders to end violence against women. Nevertheless, online spaces, which can be seen as empowering and liberating, are increasingly used to perpetuate harm against users and in particular women.

Online activity has opened new avenues for GBV, such as cyberstalking, cyberbullying and ha rassment.Deepfake technology that can seamlessly stitch women's faces onto a video or footage they never actually participated in. In fact, deepfake technology was initially developed in 2017 to transpose the faces of women actors into pornographic scenes without their consent. Since then, access to these tools has grown.

These forms of violence can severely affect the mental and emotional wellbeing of women and even put their safety at risk. Additionally, the anonymity provided by online spaces allows perpetrators to act with perceived impunity, making it difficult for victims to seek help and support.

16 February 2023

Written by Lillian Artz,  Veronica Filippeschi and Nokwanda Nzimande

The global female prison population has grown by a staggering 53% over the past decade. Yet little has been done to improve the system so that it supports those whom it incarcerates. South Africa is no different.

The little information we have about women in South African prisons speaks of intolerable overcrowding, unhygienic sleeping conditions, and minimal health and mental health care services, including ‘medical neglect’.
28 December 2022

By Fatima Chohan

As we all know, our country excels in some notorious global indices. The levels of femicide, domestic violence, violence and crime in general are some of the indices in which we have excelled. Government has been under pressure to act to eradicate such crime, and it has, in the best way that it knows how – by amending the law. This is no small matter – there are some laudable changes made to the existing law designed to further expand the ambit of criminalising gender-based violence (GBV), and sexual offences, especially against vulnerable groups, such as older persons in care facilities, young women at universities, children, and persons with disabilities.
24 Nov 2022

By Adv Bongani Majola

Research tells us that there is a direct link between poverty and child and adolescent mental health. The circumstances in which children and adolescents live have a significant impact on their mental health — both in childhood and adulthood.

On the other hand, living with a mental health challenge, in turn increases the risk of descending into or staying in poverty. A vicious cycle is born. In a society where the majority still live below the poverty line, being able to maintain good mental health is fundamental to ending the cycle of poverty.
15 Oct 2022

On Sunday 9 October, the South African Human Rights Commission, together with the departments of justice and basic education, hosted the final stages of the 2022 National Schools Moot Court Competition. The competition is a product of various stakeholders, including dedicated teachers, parents and officials of the organising institutions. However, the moot court programme is a conveyor belt for a human rights-conscious young populace, who are also future leaders of this country.
By Fatima Chohan

24 September 2022

At a recent seminar held by the South African Human Rights Commission on the topic of “The Erosion of Rule of Law”, the notion of a South African nation was disputed by the presenter who argued that we are not now, nor have we ever been, anything akin to a nation.
10 September 2022

By Ntombenhle Ngwane

National Heritage Day, celebrated in South Africa every year on September 24, is one of the holidays that encourage citizens to unite while celebrating their diversities. In 2005, a media campaign sought the rebranding of the National Heritage Day to be known as “The National Braai Day”, and later “Braai4Heritage”.

Sep 5, 2022

By Thembelihle Links

In South Africa, an Integrated Development Plan (IDP), which is a legal instrument for municipal planning, is considered the best tool to respond to the developmental needs of local communities. Although IDPs reflect the plans and aspirations of Municipal Councils, they do not always materialise.

29 Aug 2022

The Constitution establishes three spheres of government. Although all three are important in the advancement of human rights, there is no dispute that local government is at the coalface of the realisation of most of these basic human rights. But this is the sphere where all is not well.

29 August, 2022

By Wisani Baloyi

As the country grapples with the aftermath of a hard lockdown and its related economic challenges, the pattern of human rights complaints received by the South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) continues to follow a worrying trend. The 2020/21 Trends Analysis Report (TAR), launched by the commission on July 13, paints a worrying picture of the state of socio-economic condition in the country. Socio-economic rights complaints have now featured among the top three rights violations reported to the commission.
29 Aug 2022

By Yuri Ramkissoon

Poverty in South Africa’s rural areas and smaller municipalities is exacerbated by their small revenue base. Immediate targeted interventions by the national government are needed for severely impoverished areas in less populated provinces.
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Understanding PAIA

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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