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“Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them”

Women’s Month in South Africa is celebrated in August. It commemorates the significant role held by women in South African society and celebrates the accomplishments of the 20,000 women who marched to the Union Buildings in August of 1956. The march…
A memorial sign surrounded with ribbons and flowers
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Sentencing of Former President Sends Clear Message That No One Is Above the Law

Just before midnight last night, South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, reported to a prison facility in his home province KwaZulu Natal to comply with an incarceration order handed down by the Constitutional Court on June 29. The court had…
Former South Africa President, Jacob Zuma sits in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on November 30, 2018, charged with fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. 
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Government Should Reduce Pretrial Detention, Strengthen Judicial Independence

“We are tired of living like this, we live worse than animals,” a Haitian prisoner recently told the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). His testimony and those of the more than 800 prisoners in 12 jails are part of a comprehensive…
A detainee pulls a large stock pot filled with rice and beans during lunch inside the National Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Febuary. 13, 2017. 
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Civil Society Participation Key to Success at UN Climate Talks

At this month’s virtual climate negotiations several United Nations officials and governments highlighted the importance of civil society participation in climate action. Yet at the summit’s plenary session, time ran out before civil society…
Residents and environmental activists on Lamu island, Kenya, protest the proposed Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project on March 1, 2012.  © 2012 Reuters/Joseph Okanga
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Environmental Groups Hope Case Will Force Government Action on Emissions

When you approach the town of Secunda in the coal-rich province of Mpumalanga in eastern South Africa, the toxic smell of air emanating from the cluster of coal-fired power stations hits you long-before before you see the town. I spent last week in…
Fence line communities near Duvha Power Station, Mpumalanga, South Africa. 
News

End Sweeping Border Expulsions, Re-designate Haiti for Temporary Protected Status

In 1993, when I was a junior staff member at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, I saw first-hand the tragic repercussions of US President Bill Clinton’s failure to follow through on the promise he made as a candidate to…
A migrant from Haiti wearing a mask in the colors of the Mexican and US flags stands at a border crossing with others, waiting to asylum in the US, February 19, 2021. 
News

Institutional Violence by Security Forces Recalls Apartheid Abuses

Police brutality has been a part of the South African experience since colonialism. Infamous incidents, such as the shootings which resulted in the death of school children during the Soweto Uprising of 1976 and the brutal police assaults that led to…
Protesters run for cover as they clash with police at Eldorado Park police station in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 27, 2020. 
News

Inclusive, Non-Discriminatory Approach Needed to Curb Pandemic

As South Africa received its first shipment of Covid-19 vaccines this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that his government aims “to make the vaccine available to all adults living in South Africa, regardless of their citizenship or residence…
Volunteers wait to be checked at a vaccine trial facility set at Soweto's Chris Sani Baragwanath Hospital outside Johannesburg, South Africa, November 30, 2020. 
News

Human Rights Abuses Under ZANU-PF Have Soared During Country’s Crisis

A high-level delegation from South Africa has been dispatched to Zimbabwe to try to find a solution to the country’s escalating economic and political crisis. The team, led by the head of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) party…
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses the media at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, March, 17, 2020.
News

Swiss Court Upholds Regulations Biased Against Women Athletes

The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland has ruled that sport regulations that violate women’s rights cannot be struck down as inconsistent with Swiss public policy, dealing a blow to the rights of all women athletes. The court came to this conclusion…
South Africa's Caster Semenya competes in the women's 800-meter race during the Prefontaine Classic, an IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting, in Stanford, California, June 30, 2019.
News

Homelessness Increases Risk for Covid-19 Spread

South Africa has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the fifth-highest number of cases – 625,059 as of 30 August – in the world. Yet despite a federal ban on evictions, the country’s local governments are evicting people from homes built on public…
A South Africa soldier guards the entrance of a housing development while flats are being emptied in Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday Aug. 12, 2020.
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Encouraging Signs They Are Set to Take More Leading Role

The Nordic countries proudly express steadfast commitment to human rights as a priority in foreign policy, but have been disappointingly inconsistent in practice. Sweden launched a feminist foreign policy in 2014 – a laudable approach that failed…
An Icelandic flag hangs outside a shop in Reykjavik, October 27, 2016.
News

Remembering the Soweto Uprising Amid New Calls for Reform

Hector Pieterson was a 12-year old schoolboy in Soweto on June 16, 1976. That morning he joined several thousand other youths in a march denouncing apartheid education policies. By the afternoon, the image of Hector’s lifeless body, cradled in the…
FILE: A South African youth holds a placard during the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the uprisings in Soweto, South Africa, Friday, June 16, 2006.
News

Past Raids Led to Killings, Rape

Last week Haiti’s minister of justice and public security announced that government forces would conduct a raid to curb gang violence in Village de Dieu, a low-income neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. He gave “good people” 72 hours to…
People go about their day in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.
News

On Human Rights Day, End Abuses Against Asylum Seekers

Today the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and South Africa commemorates Human Rights Day, in remembrance of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, when apartheid police killed 69 people protesting…
A woman waves a South African flag as she attends Freedom Day celebrations in Kwa-Thema Township, near Johannesburg
News

Hundreds of Thousands Still not Getting Equal Education

When two young South African learners ran into the road to pick up a fallen election poster featuring the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, their action did not go unnoticed. A video about the “rescue mission,” posted on social media…
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Crucial Step in South Africa’s Path to Justice and Equality

Today, South Africa launched its National Action Plan to combat xenophobia, racism, and discrimination, marking an important step towards addressing the widespread human rights abuses arising from xenophobic and gender-based violence and…
A South African flag waves above Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
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Landmark Rulings Protect Women and Communities Affected by Mining Companies

South Africa’s highest court has delivered two landmark decisions protecting women’s rights to equality and land ownership, as well as the rights of communities living in mining areas. The latest ruling ensured that an older…
Xolobeni community members and environmental activists march and chant slogans in front of South Africa's Pretoria High Court, April 24, 2018.
News

Constitution Debate Aims to Secure Equitable and Just Expropriation Laws

President Donald Trump is again spreading misinformation, this time in a tweet that echoes white supremacist propaganda about South Africa’s much-needed land reform agenda. South Africa’s national discussion on land reform has been open and…
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News

Justice Ministry Should Consult With Sex Workers

Sex work, illegal in South Africa, has been a political hot potato here for decades. South Africa’s Law Review Commission late last year recommended that sex work remain fully criminalized, i.e. a criminal offense to both sell and…
Sex workers wearing masks lead a march to mark International Sex Workers Rights Day in Johannesburg March 3, 2011