SALC engages in litigation and advocacy to protect civil and political rights.
Through this work, SALC aims to contribute to the following strategic objectives:

Legal reforms to ensure freedom of expression, association and assembly:

  • Reform of laws relating to assemblies, associations, media, and cybercrimes, to ensure their compliance with regional and international human rights standards.
  • Repeal of the offences of criminal defamation, defamation/insult of the President or public officers, sedition, spreading false news.
  • Removal of stigmatising and marginalising laws including those criminalising consensual same-sex sexual acts, and outdated mental health laws.
  • Advocacy against the use of national security or public morality arguments to prevent the exercise of the rights to expression, assembly and association.
  • Advocacy for the implementation of laws which promote access to information and data protection.
  • Improved public participation in the law-making process and increased space for civil society input in the development of laws, including those relating to NGO regulation, assemblies, cybercrimes, media, hate speech, access to information and data protection.

Promotion of an enabling environment for human rights defenders:

  • Protect human rights defenders and journalists from attacks, surveillance and hate speech.
  • Prosecution of persons who violate the rights of human rights defenders.
  • Provide support to human rights defenders and journalists who are persecuted.
  • Promote press freedom, by promoting self-regulation of the media and the removal of onerous licensing and fee requirements for journalists, including foreign journalists, bloggers and social media users.
  • Ensuring the rights to association, assembly and expression are vigorously and equally protected during election periods.

Current Cases:

Eswatini: Challenging the constitutionality of the Sedition and Subversive Activities Act.
Eswatini: Challenging the constitutionality of the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
Botswana: Challenging refusal to provide access to information.
Botswana: Supporting amicus curiae application in case challenging criminalisation of publication of information on corruption investigation.
Malawi: Protecting right to freedom of expression for women human rights defenders.
Zambia: Challenging the use of the offence of defamation of the President.
Eswatini: Challenging the extensive use of prerogative powers.
Eswatini: Freedom of assembly.
Malawi: Challenging hair policy of schools.

Completed Cases:

Lesotho: Challenging the offence of criminal defamation.
Zimbabwe: Supporting amicus curiae in case confirming that criminal defamation no longer an offence in Zimbabwe.
Botswana: Challenging the refusal to register an LGBT organisation.

Eswatini: Supporting lawyer and editor charged with contempt of court.
Zambia: Supporting activist’s right to freedom of expression.
Zimbabwe: Challenging the refusal to allow sex workers to march.
Botswana: Challenging the constitutionality of sedition offence.
Zambia: Challenging the arrest of human rights defenders during a protest.
Eswatini: Supporting the right to protest at university.
Eswatini: Challenging limitations to the right to associate during elections.
Zimbabwe: Challenging the disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
Zimbabwe: Challenging restrictions to voter education.
Zambia: Defending anti-corruption activist on contempt of court charges.


SALC Litigation Manual: Litigating on Freedom of Expression
SALC Publication: Reflecting on the Closing of Civic Spaces in Southern Africa and Summit Report
Summary of the LEGABIBO Case: A Victory for Freedom of Association
SALC Research Report on Human Rights in Eswatini

24 Aug 2020 Staff Writer

We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations and individuals note with grave concern the decision of the Zimbabwean Magistrates Court to disqualify Beatrice Mtetwa from continuing as defence legal counsel for journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who is currently being tried on charges of…

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27 Jul 2020 Staff Writer
SALC statement on arrest of Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume...

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) is deeply concerned about the clampdown on expression and peaceful assembly in Zimbabwe following the arrests of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume We are concerned by the arrest of investigative…

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24 Jun 2020 Staff Writer
Joint Statement: Zambia: Authorities escalate attacks on dissent by denying yout...

Zambian authorities have escalated their attacks on dissent by thwarting a planned anti-corruption protest leading to organisers streaming their protest from the outskirts of Lusaka. According to a coalition of civil society organizations, Zambian authorities are escalating their attacks and…

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09 Jun 2020 Staff Writer
SALC’s open letter to Special Rapporteurs raising concerns over the human ...

On the 9 June 2020, SALC wrote letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information for…

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26 May 2020 Staff Writer
SALC Policy Brief: A Legal Overview of the Impact of COVID-19 on Justice and Rig...

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, various countries in the Southern African region have put in place restrictions on gatherings, free movement, commerce and expression. Many of these measures limit human rights and result in criminal sanctions for breach. This…

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28 Apr 2020 Staff Writer

On 22 September 2020, the Constitutional Court will hear the case of Jonathan Dubula Qwelane v South African Human Rights Commission and Another (case no: 13/20). The Constitutional Court will decide whether section 10 of the Promotion of Equality and…

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23 Mar 2020 Amanda Shivamba
Joint Statement Calling for the Ban on Zambian Lawyer, John Sangwa, to be Lifted...

Statement Issued By: Amnesty International, SADC Lawyers’ Association and Southern Africa Litigation Centre The Zambian authorities must immediately and unconditionally reinstate lawyer John Sangwa and allow him to practise in his profession, Amnesty International, SADC Lawyers’ Association and the Southern…

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17 Mar 2020 Amanda Shivamba
Update on the Arrest of Zambian HRDs Fumba Chama aka Pilato, Laura Miti and Born...

On the 20 January 2020, SALC and Amnesty International, released a statement condemning the arrest of, Fumba Chama, popularly known as Pilato, a Zambian human rights defender and musician, as well as Laura Miti and Bornwell Mwewa, Human Rights Defenders…

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15 Jan 2020 Anneke Meerkotter

14 January 2020 – On 14 January 2020, the High Court of Malawi in Zomba granted an interlocutory injunction compelling the Minister of Education to allow all children of Rastafari religion, who have dreadlocks, to enroll into Government Schools pending…

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23 Dec 2019 Anneke Meerkotter

23 December 2019, Livingstone – Three prominent human rights defenders are spending their 3rd day in police custody with no release in sight. The three activists have been at the forefront of calls for transparency and accountability in the spending…

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20 Dec 2019 Anneke Meerkotter

20 December 2019, Mbabane – In a coordinated operation in the early hours of this morning, Eswatini police visited the houses of a number of pro-democracy activists including Sikelela Dlamini, Secretary General of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT),…

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20 Dec 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
Opinion: Eswatini’s citizens condemn lavish spending by the monarchy at their...

Published in the Daily Maverick on 17 December 2019 In a time of economic hardship for Eswatini, citizens saw the arrival of a large fleet of luxury cars for the King and his 11 wives. But on 13 November 2019…

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