rights

rights

  • Zambia Tackles Gender Parity in Land Reforms

    Rights organisation, Gender Links, says that, "Cultural practices and customary laws in Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) limit women's ability to access, own and control means of production such as land and livestock."
     
    The organisation believes that the inability by women to access means of production has had an impact on their economic independence and ability to move out of poverty.
     
    Statistics indicate that women's access to land for food production is critical to the welfare of the entire region as women are primarily responsible for maintaining households.
     
    To read the article titled, “Tackling gender parity in land reforms,” click here.

    Source: 
    All Africa
  • SERI-SA to Fight ‘Inhumane’ Evictions

    The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI-SA) is assisting Lesiba Matlaila (71), Sophie Kgomare (71) and Kgomare’s daughter, with their application against their eviction from 236 Wilson Street, Fairlands, were they resided for four decades.

    The organisation states that there are numerous personal circumstances, unique to this case, which the court must take into account.

    It says that All Building and Cleaning Services, a property development company, has flouted its duty in terms of meaningful engagement in its eviction efforts, instead resorting to coercion tactics to remove the three people.

    To read the article titled, “Rights group fights 'inhumane' eviction,” click here.

    Source: 
    Mail and Guardian
  • Thembelihle and the Criminalisation of Dissent

    “We did not just wake up and throw stones, the protest was planned, then police came and started shooting to disperse us,” says Bhayiza Miya, a community activist in Thembelihle, Gauteng. Miya is referring to the community’s 2011 protest, which led to him being arrested five times. During one of these arrests, the 46-year old father was arrested with his five-year old daughter who was kept overnight in a police holding cell with him.

    During the protest, Miya was singled out as a community leader and was detained as a ‘preventative measure’ to stop protests- evidencing how community activists are targeted, bullied and criminalised by the state.

    The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) latest research output, An Anatomy of Dissent and Repression: The Criminal Justice System and the 2011 Thembelihle Protest documents the lead up to the protest, including the state’s refusal to engage with the community, the protest itself and how in the aftermath thereof; activists and protesting community members were ensnared in the criminal justice system for participating in a legitimate and effective protest action.

    This highlights the intimate relationship between socio-economic rights and civil and political rights. This is due to the manner in which the community utilised their civil and political entitlements to local democratic participation and protest to assert their socio-economic demands, and was reinforced by the state’s clamp down on the civil and political rights of protestors in an attempt to suppress such demands.

    According to Michael Clark, legal researcher and advocacy officer at SERI, the report tries to understand the protest in Thembelihle specifically, but also rising dissent South Africa more generally. For SERI this is crucial as the existing narratives in relation to protest action in South Africa are almost always informed by the moment of protest and is rarely informed by a more comprehensive investigation into the events leading up to the protest and that take place in the aftermath.

    Clark goes on to note that, “The arrest, detention and failed prosecution of the Thembelihle protestors clearly exposes the way in the state apparatus, and particularly the criminal justice system, is utilised to silence dissent and harass and intimidate communities advocating for socio-economic development.”

    Key findings of the report include:
    • We are facing an increasingly unresponsive and remote state which refers specifically to the failure of formal participatory mechanisms to address the concerns of communities. This frequently leads to communities becoming isolated and frustrated, and means that turning to informal and more direct means of engaging, namely protest;
    • When protest occurs, the criminal justice system is not used for the genuine prosecution of criminal activity, but rather to deter and suppress popular dissent; and
    • Most importantly, the report highlights that without civil and political rights, and specifically the right to protest and mobilise collectively, it will be increasingly difficult for poor communities to assert their socio-economic rights.
    Through this report, SERI hopes that by exposing the state’s repressive stance in relation to protests and community mobilisation, the state would reconsider how it responds to protests. “This can be done by creating more democracy participatory spaces where communities can raise their grievances and creating an enabling environment where protests are encouraged to take place in a peaceful and safe manner as opposed to the current restrictive approach,” notes Clark.

    Through telling the story of this particular community, SERI manages to underscore the fact that communities often have long histories of failed attempts at engaging with different levels of the state. In Thembelihle’s case, there were decades of engagement and struggle which provided little relief to the community.

    Koketso Moeti is the national coordinator of Local Government Action, a loose alliance of organisations working to promote democracy, accountability and delivery at local government level.
    Author(s): 
    Koketso Moeti
  • Call for Responsible Social Media Use

    The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) urged the public to use social networking sites responsibly.
     
    The call came after the commission resolved a case involving, Ziyaad Kayat, who made anti-semitic statements.
     
    In a message sent to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) Facebook page, Kayat, stated that, "All Jews are pigs and I think we should kill you SA Jews and kill your kids and let you feel what the Palestinians are feeling."
     
    The SAJBD laid a complaint with the SAHRC which found that Kayat's comments were in contravention of, among other laws, Section 16 of the South African Constitution.
     
    To read the article titled, “SAHRC calls for responsible use of social media after man calls for SA Jews to be killed,” click here.

    Source: 
    Times Live
  • SAHRC Says Prisoners’ Rights Are Violated

    The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says the right to a healthy environment of the suspects detained at Maake police station outside Tzaneen in Limpopo has been violated.
     
    About 51 awaiting trial inmates are reportedly forced to relieve themselves in plastic bags and on their clothes because the police station did not have water.
     
    SAHRC spokesperson, Victor Mavhidula, points out that, “We have not yet visited the police station. We will visit the police station and see if there is any other contingency plan that the management are implementing to assist the inmates. I think the situation is very serious if people are being locked up and they are not being provided with water and they cannot go to the toilet.”
     
    To read the article titled, “Awaiting trial inmates violated: Human Rights Commission,” click here.

    Source: 
    SABC News
  • MISA Challenges National Assembly Ban

    The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia, has challenged the alleged decision of the National Assembly to bar its members from covering the opening of the Fourth Session of the 11th National Assembly.

    MISA described the decision as discriminatory and a violation of press freedom.

    MISA board chairperson, Hellen Mwale, asked the Lusaka High Court to declare that the move by the National Assembly and Zambia News and Information Services to bar its members from entering the Parliament precincts to cover the event, on 19 September 2014, is discriminatory and contrary to Article 23 of the Constitution.

    To read the article titled, “MISA challenges Parley ‘ban’,” click here.

    Source: 
    Times of Zambia
  • Nzimande Calls NW University an Apartheid Enclave

    Minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, believes the North West University’s Potchefstroom campus is an apartheid enclave - a hostile and foreign environment for people who are not white Afrikaners.

    Following a video clip showing students performing the Nazi-styled ‘Heil Puk’ salute, Nzimande was scornful of the university’s previous vice-chancellor, Theuns Eloff, who retired just after the video emerged, stating that he had not been prepared to transform Pukke - the traditional name for the Potchefstroom campus of North West University.

    Nzimande is of the view that the merger of the three former universities in 2004 - Potchefstroom, Vaal and Mafikeng - had been designed to keep the Potchefstroom campus Afrikaans and white, where initiation rituals for new students were structured to achieve this, and violate human rights and dehumanise first-year students.

    To read the article titled, “Campus an ‘apartheid enclave’,” click here.

    Source: 
    IOL News
  • Mokonyane Urges Rand Water to Communicate Better

    Water and sanitation minister, Nomvula Mokonyane's office urges Rand Water to work closer and to communicate better with communities regarding water supply interruptions and other challenges.

    Speaking at a meeting with the board, Mokonyane reminds the board that “[as a member]… you have a responsibility towards the communities you serve."

    The board had to close the gap between their commitment to communities and what was eventually delivered, it also had to look at their current way of doing things, and how it could possibly be changed for positive results.

    To read the article titled, “Mokonyane: Rand Water must communicate better,” click here.

    Source: 
    News 24
  • Zambia Commended Over Child Marriage

    Nobel peace laureate and anti-apartheid icon, Desmond Tutu, is impressed with the remarkable coalition among stakeholders in fighting child marriages in Zambia.

    Speaking during the Girls Not Brides, Global Partnership to End Child Marriages press conference, Tutu commended the Zambian government for launching the national campaign to end child marriages.

    “It is encouraging to see that Government, civil society, traditional leaders and others in Zambia have recognised that child marriage has a devastating impact on girls and the nation as a whole,” he said.

    To read the article titled, “Tutu hails Zambia’s fight against child marriages,” click here.

    Source: 
    Times of Zambia
  • Inhumane Zim Holding Cells Slammed

    Zimbabwean lawyers condemn reported assaults, deaths of suspects in police custody, as well as conditions in holding cells they dub unfit for human habitation.

    During a parliamentary committee on human rights, president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Lloyd Mhishi, expresses that, “There have been disturbing reports of deaths in police custody and some of our members have reported that some of their clients have been assaulted or coerced to make confessions.”

    Meanwhile, human rights organisations have denounced prison conditions in Zimbabwe, saying suspects are often held in overcrowded cells without functioning bathroom facilities, and issued threadbare and often lice-infested blankets.

    To read the article titled, “Lawyers blast inhumane Zim holding cells,” click here.

    Source: 
    IOL News
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