Independent Judiciary and Human Rights

Gun Free South Africa was established in 1995 with the objective to contribute to building a safe South Africa by reducing gun violence.  GFSA is a single-issue campaigning organisation with experience in public policy advocacy, public education and awareness raising, and community mobilisation.  This includes influencing policy and programming to strengthen the enforcement of the current firearms control regime; extensive media reach which includes highlighting the risks of guns in the home; and developing youth networks to enable young people to shape and influence relevant policies, legislation and authorities to reduce gun violence, as well as be active citizens in community safety initiatives.  The purpose of the current project is to strengthen South Africa’s gun control regime by (a) advocating for the enforcement of the Firearms Control Act (FCA), with a particular focus on stockpile management, and (b) advocating for the Firearms Control Amendment Act to come to Parliament in 2019/2020.

CASAC is project of progressive people who want to advance the South African Constitution as the platform for democratic politics and the transformation of society.  CASAC embraces the contestation of ideas and encourages debate on how best to build a just and equal society in which people can live securely with dignity. 

While recognizing and supporting all the values included in section 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996, CASAC is founded upon the following core principles:  (A) The idea of “progressive constitutionalism” is a pivotal founding principle.  (B) The Constitution provides a framework for the social and economic transformation of South Africa, and for a deliberative, participatory and inclusive democracy.  (C) The Constitution itself must be subject to on-going critical appraisal to assess its efficacy as the needs of the country change.  (D) The principle of the rule of law is a critical building block in seeking to pursue the concept of constitutionalism;  (E) Judicial independence is, in turn, an indispensable element, if not a pre-requisite for the rule of law and the integrity of the court system.  (F) In order for people to organise lawfully to claim rights, and to participate meaningfully in democratic decision-making, civil liberties such as freedom of speech, access to information, and a free and tolerant political process are essential.  (G) The realisation of the socio-economic rights is intertwined with civil liberties and political freedoms. Social and economic marginalisation deprives people of their fundamental right to live with security and dignity and is a betrayal of the Constitution. Providing people with access to decent education, adequate housing and health care, and with the protection of a social security net, is essential for a cohesive society and the future prosperity of the nation.  (H) The values that contribute to building a society with effective systems of open governance – ethical behaviour, accountability, competence, hard work, a spirit of public service with consequences for poor performance or corrupt conduct, non-violent resolution of disputes, and non-partisanship – also need to be respected.  (I) A rights-based culture must also focus on the responsibilities and obligations that go with these rights, encouraging citizens to be active in improving their own lives and communities, in holding government to account through participative processes and sustained social dialogue. 

The goal is a deliberative democracy that celebrates diversity, where respect for the views and beliefs of others is the norm, and thus builds solidarity between people from different social ten years ago with the mission to deepen non-racialism. In this reporting period CASAC will work towards developing a focus on the transformative nature of the Constitution, including constitutional awareness programmes, will focus on Parliament and how its oversight role can be strengthened, will prepare a discussion paper on an independent anti-corruption agency, focus on the effectiveness of Chapter 9 Institutions and initiate a national dialogue on electoral reform.

The Children’s Institute is a child policy research unit based at the University of Cape Town with the explicit intent to contribute to policies, laws and services that promote equality and realise the rights of all children in South Africa.  They will conduct a project with the theme: “Including the excluded children: Identifying and addressing barriers to birth registration”.  The project is aimed at addressing systemic barriers to birth registration. Working with paralegals and social service practitioners, they will document cases as families try to apply for late birth registration of their children.  They will engage with relevant government agencies at national, provincial and district levels, as well as local service centres, advice offices and key role-players within the specific sites, to review the obstacles identified in the cases, identify possible solutions and implement them.  The ultimate goal of the project is to ensure that systemic challenges in the birth registration process are acknowledged by Department of Home Affairs and subsequently resolved, that Home Affairs services are operating as required by law, and that all children in South Africa are registered.

The Centre for Human Rights introduced a doctoral programme for students from African countries contributing to a research agenda entitled “Freedom from Violence in Africa”.  The first intake involved ten students, exploring issues related to the right to life and violence reduction, a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of violence.  The programme aims to establish a network of African scholars and practitioners with advance capacity aimed at achieving progress towards Goal 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda.

The aim of the Black Sash Trust is to work towards the realization of socio-economic rights, as outlined in the SA Constitution 1996, with emphasis on social security and social protection for particularly women and children and the most vulnerable.  They believe the implementation of socio-economic rights demands open, transparent and accountable governance (state, corporate and civil society) and should result in significant reduction in poverty and inequality.  To this end they promote active civic engagement by a strong and vibrant civil society.  The objectives of this grant are (a) An effectively functioning social grant payment system so that beneficiaries can enjoy their full constitutional right to social security;  (b) Evidence based Community Based Monitoring and specialized research towards improved service delivery from government service sectors and (c) Capacitated Community Based and Civil Society Organisations able to implement human rights public education programmes and to advocate towards resolving individual and cluster cases.

The Alliance for Rural Democracy have launched the “Stop The Bantustan Campaign” and established an independent secretariat to actively drive the campaign.  The Alliance for Rural Democracy contests policy and legislation that undermines the rights of rural citizens living in the former Bantustans and which threatens to dispossess them of rights in land.  The members of the alliance belief such laws, policies and practices distort customary law, undermine security of tenure and rights in land while entrenching the powers of traditional authorities.  The Rural Democracy Trust (RDT) is the legal entity behind the Alliance for Rural Democracy.

The mission of AKF is to deepen non-racialism and create an equitable society.  The objectives of AKF are:  (a) to promote the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa;  (b) to record and display Kathrada’s role in South Africa’s liberation struggle and its relation to the role of other individuals, groups and movements;  (c) to establish a research and documentation centre that will provide selective historical and contemporary documentation and archival material on liberation history in South Africa and to make this available to others.  The AKF has been instrumental in the establishment of the Anti-Racism Network South Africa.

Hassen Ebrahim has kept all the minutes (which he recorded himself) of the meetings of the ANC Negotiations Commission (the body that drove the negotiations process), as well as the record of all the bilateral meetings that the ANC had with the National Party and the multi-lateral meetings with other political parties.   The minutes cover the period from 1991 to 1994.  Hassen is preparing a manuscript recording his memory of the history of the ANC’s Negotiations Commission, how the ANC managed its process of negotiations through the Negotiations Commission; how the ANC was mandated through its interactions with its structures and from the mass democratic movement; how ideas were developed, negotiated and finally agreed upon in the process of constitution making; as well as his understanding of the challenges in the negotiations process, what the deadlocks were and how those were overcome.  The public launch planned of the book on the Negotiations Commission in collaboration with Albie Sachs and the Constitutional Hill Project is planned for March 2020.

The Centre for Human Rights, based at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria is both an academic department and a non-governmental organisation.  Established in 1986, the Centre works towards human rights education in Africa, a greater awareness of human rights, the wide dissemination of publications on human rights in Africa, and the improvement of the rights of women, people living with HIV, indigenous peoples, sexual minorities and other disadvantaged or marginalised persons or groups across the continent. The Schools Moot Court Competition was established in 2011 by the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria to ensure greater awareness of the South African Constitution and presented in partnership with the Department of Basic Education and the South African Human Rights Commission.  This grant requests support to establish Schools’ Moots in other African countries on the model established in South Africa, under direction of the country’s national human rights commission, together with local universities, based on the domestic constitution; and ultimately becoming part of the school curriculum.

The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town provides development and welfare services to asylum seekers and refugees.  The Centre contributes to policy, legislation, case law, and the protection of migrants and refugees in the South African immigration system, as well as related sectors including law and order, labour, education and health.  The Centre assists refugees and migrants to better realise their rights afforded by the South African Constitution through improved access to the available services.  The Centre undertakes initiatives aimed at strengthening the integrity of the legal and policy framework of the department of Home Affairs through communication and submissions on policy documents and to ad hoc committees on new legislation and legislation amendment bills that affect foreign nationals.  The Centre networks with partner organisation; conducts strategic litigation, research projects, workshop and training sessions and general awareness-raising in the media.  The Centre designs and implements a strategic communication plan to increase public awareness of migrant policy and rights while also highlighting the positive contributions migrants make in South Africa and at home.

The aim of My Vote Count is to improve the accountability, transparency and  inclusiveness of elections and politics in the Republic of South Africa generally, by (a) campaigning to reform the political party funding systems in the Republic, through the introduction of legislation and other regulatory measures; (b) campaigning to reform the electoral system of the republic; and (c) creating platforms which aim to unite and educate citizens and organisations in finding democratic solutions to the challenges of our time.

The objectives of the Judges Matter Campaign are (a) to monitor the appointment process of judges;  (b) to provide non-partisan, evidence based research on the criteria for good candidates, as well as the appointment process, and a report on each candidate;  (c) to provide an active social media campaign leading up to and including the week of judicial interviews; and  (d) to livestream the interviews and put the videos on a website for viewing after the interviews. 

For the current reporting period the DGRU proposed the Chief Justice Campaign and will (a) Develop a set of criteria for determining what might makes a good Chief Justice and developing a campaign around that through our social media platforms;  (b) Engage stakeholders and the general public on potential candidates through candidate profiling;  (c) Collect information on the potential candidates and collaborating with/making use of the media to discuss these profiles and (d) Assist to project the profiles of candidates with good qualities but who may not be in the lime light.

Has the broad objective to support rural people engaged in the struggle to achieve change in respect of land, power, and customs. LARC monitors Parliament in Cape Town and provincial public hearings with regards to the security of tenure of rural people, produces reports of developments in parliament for the Alliance for Rural Democracy and other community-based organisations and reports and transcripts of public hearings.  The LARC also produces information sheets for rural communities about specific laws and policies, to be circulated and used in workshops and in the preparations of written and oral submissions by activists.


The aim of the HSF is to protect and promote liberal constitutional democracy and upholding the Rule of Law in South Africa.  The HSF’s current activities consist mainly of the following:  public interest litigation in areas where government institutions or officials are in breach of their obligations or where the rule of law needs to be supported; and research on topical social, economic and legal issues.

The aim of FUL is to promote democracy under law; by advancing the understanding and respect of the rule of law and the principle of legality; securing and strengthening the independence of the judiciary; promoting the selection, training and advancement of a judiciary appropriate to the needs of constitutional democracy; advancing the independence and skills of the legal profession in serving the courts; enhancing communication and understanding between the judiciary, the legal profession, academic lawyers, the media and society at large; promoting legal education appropriate to the needs of constitutional democracy; and protecting, promoting and advancing the freedom of speech and freedom of the media in relation to the administration of justice and in courts.