Publications

Birth registration is a human right. It represents the starting point for the recognition of a person’s legal existence and is thus the key to the realisation of nearly all other fundamental rights and practical needs. Human rights are universal. Children born to asylum-seekers, refugees and undocumented foreigners hold this right equally to children of citizens. South Africa has made a clear commitment to these principles through ratification of the relevant human rights treaties, as well as through constitutional and other legal standards. To be sure that we honour this commitment, it is important that all children born on the territory are issued with a birth certificate without discrimination as to their or their parents’ legal status in this country.

LHR’s Detention Monitoring Programme has been monitoring the arrest, detention and deportation of foreign nationals at local detention centres, primarily the Lindela Holding Facility and the Musina Detention Centre, this report is based on LHR’s findings through its consultations with detainees, and its ongoing litigation brought against the Department in the period from January 2009 to August 2010.

A report released by the Forced Migration Studies Programme at Wits University titled “Protection and Pragmatism: Addressing Administrative Failures in South Africa’s Refugee Status Determination Decisions” identifies serious flaws in South Africa’s refugee status determination process.

LHR has brought a number of high profile cases in the 2008/9 period. In the Zimabawean Exiles Forum matter, LHR sought the release of several Zimbabwean human rights activists who were arrested and threatened with deportation following a protest against the arms shipment to Zimbabwe that took place at the gates of the Chinese Embassy.

The purpose of this booklet is to provide an overview of LHR’s litigation activities and our role in public interest litigation in South Africa. The booklet has been designed thematically and looks at past LHR cases with a view of planning for future projects and activities to develop human rights jurisprudence in South Africa.

The exodus of Zimbabweans into neighbouring countries is one of the greatest challenges and opportunities for the region, yet Southern African countries are struggling to respond appropriately. A new study by the Forced Migration Studies Programme (FMSP) at the University of the Witwatersrand finds that the humanitarian nature of Zimbabwean migration blurs the traditional distinctions between refugees and economic migrants. However, official responses to Zimbabwean migration in Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique are still premised on this distinction and so are failing to protect both Zimbabweans and the citizens of neighbouring countries.

This legal review looks at strategic interventions for upholding the constitutional rights to water and sanitation and a better use of the law in improving the delivery of water services. Of course, use of law is not the only way of reaching such goals. The review also looks at interventions that use public participation and social mobilisation to ensure that communities are actively involved in asserting their rights inside and outside the legal environment.

This report highlights serious human rights concerns in South Africa's immigration detention facilities, in particular the private operated facility at Lindela in Krugersdorp and  the detention centre operated by the SAPS in Musina. The report reveals that despite South Africa's obligations in domestic and international law to comply with basic minimum standards of detention, there are serious violations of these most basic rights ranging from lack of access to drinking water to the most serious violations of torture in detention, which occur with little oversight or legal recourse. 

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), together with several interested organisations commissioned a survey of Zimbabwean asylum seekers and refugees living in South Africa. The aim of the study was to make a submission to the Minister of Home Affairs to provide a platform for meaningful engagement with the DHA and national institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission, in order to raise critical awareness and make practical recommendations on specific human rights problems faced by the asylum and the refugee community in South Africa.

On 26 - 27 February 2008 Lawyers for Human Rights, in collaboration with Aim for Human Rights, hosted a conference on the newly adopted UN Convention for the Protection of All Person from Enforced Disappearances. The conference sought to facilitate an initial dialgue between the SA government and civil society organisations from SA and the region. This report gives a detailed account of the conference's proceedings.