Tag - South Africa ( 2 )

News | South Africa Gatherings Act imposes ‘illegitimate’ restrictions on assemblies, Special Rapporteur tells court

Apr 10 2017

NAIROBI/CAPE TOWN – The notification provisions of South Africa’s Gatherings Act constitute “illegitimate” restrictions on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, according to a brief filed by Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai before a court in Cape Town. The amicus curiae brief was filed on 31 March 2017 in the appeal of Phumeza Mlungwana, et. al vs. the State, which concerns the constitutionality of section 12(1)(a) of the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993. The act imposes criminal sanctions on any person who convenes a gathering of more than 15 people without notifying the relevant authority. Sanctions can also be imposed for “inadequate” notification. The case arose from a peaceful protest at the Cape Town Civic Centre on 11 September 2013. Police arrested 21 people and charged them under section 12(1)(a) of the Gatherings Act for convening a gathering without providing notice to the relevant municipal authority. The 10 individuals who filed the appeal were convicted on 11 February 2015. In his brief, the Special Rapporteur notes that State authorities are permitted to request notification for assemblies in order to fulfill their positive obligation to facilitate such assemblies. But this should not be construed as a permission requirement, he added. Thus, the imposition of... Continue reading →

News | Surmounting civil society restrictions “the great challenge of our time,” Special Rapporteur tells activists

Nov 20 2014

PRETORIA, South Africa – Overcoming the current wave of government efforts to silence peaceful activists across the globe is “the great challenge of our time,” UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai told African civil society leaders this week. Civil society, donors and activists “must do better” in order to address this challenge, Kiai said, including by becoming more creative in how they confront restrictions on their fundamental rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He focused particularly on donors, whom he said often utilize dated and inappropriate benchmarks to measure civil society’s work. “Donors need to be more flexible in funding human rights work,” Kiai told participants. “Some want results in six months, but you don’t get that with human rights work. That’s not the way human rights works.” Kiai’s remarks came during a two-day conference in Pretoria on protecting civic space, organized by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, CIVICUS, the Community of Democracies and the Special Rapporteur’s office. The event brought together civil society leaders from 14 countries, and served as the African regional dialogue in the joint Special Rapporteur-Community of Democracies project on civic space and the right to access resources, which began earlier... Continue reading →