CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS

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  • Removal of stigmatising and marginalising laws including those criminalising consensual same-sex sexual acts, and outdated mental health laws.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.

Publications:

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

17 Sep 2019 Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh
Media Statement: SALC condemns the abduction and enforced disappearance of Dr Pe...

SALC calls on the Zimbabwean government to urgently determine the whereabouts of Dr Magombeyi and to ensure his safety. Zimbabwean doctors yesterday staged a walkout in protest over this weekend's alleged abduction of Dr Magombeyi, the acting president of the…

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14 Aug 2019 Staff Writer
Navigating Litigation During Internet Shutdowns in Southern Africa...

  As of 2018, ITU estimated that 51.2% of the global population was using the internet. Much of the recent growth is occurring in Africa, which saw a 20% bump in internet users over the course of 2017. There are…

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02 Aug 2019 Amanda Shivamba
Urgent Statement for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Malawi...

The undersigned organisations are deeply concerned with the recent threats made against Human Rights Defenders (HRD’s) in Malawi. Given the current post-election political instability in Malawi, we call on the Malawi Government to ensure the safety and protection of all…

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22 Jul 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
Sedition charges impact on freedom of expression in Eswatini...

Opinion Piece first published on 22 July 2019 on Polity.org.za In May 2019 a lone activist, Goodwill Sibiya, sought to file an application before the civil courts in Eswatini. In the application, apparently drafted without legal representation, the applicant sought to remedy…

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18 Jun 2019 Staff Writer
SALC IN THE NEWS: Is speaking truth to Swazi royal power bringing slow change?...

THe IPP Media Little news emerges from Eswatini, the tiny monarchy landlocked by South Africa and Mozambique, except lurid stories about the latest shenanigans of King Mswati III and his many wives. So it's hardly surprising that few outsiders-and not…

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25 May 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
Zambia: Challenging the enforcement of the offence of defamation of the Presiden...

The offence of defaming the President has been used far more in Zambia over the past decade than in many other countries. This is a great cause of concern and requires clear statements from the courts which would narrow the…

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24 May 2019 Staff Writer
Statement: SALC condemns the arrest and ongoing detention of four human rights d...

SALC condemns the arrests of Tatenda Mombeyara, Gamuchirai Mukura, George Makoni and Nyasha Mpahlo by Zimbabwean authorities on Monday, 20 May 2019. The four NGO leaders were abducted by the police from Robert Mugabe International Airport upon their return to…

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23 May 2019 Staff Writer
News Release: SALC concerned about judicial persecution of human rights lawyers ...

SALC is concerned about the criminal charges laid against human rights lawyer Doug Coltart who was summoned to the Harare Central Police Station on the 28th April 2019 and was charged with ‘participating in gathering with intent to promote public…

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21 May 2019 Staff Writer
Malawi: The Internet Should Stay On to Help Ensure a Free and Fair Election in M...

Over the weekend, Director General of the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA), Godfrey Itaye, called a meeting in Blantyre to take place at 17h30 on Saturday, 18 May 2019.  The meeting’s pressing action item: discussing the government’s attempt to shutdown…

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20 May 2019 Staff Writer
The Internet Shutdowns Cast Doubt on Election Integrity: Malawi and Mozambique S...

By: Tyler Walton (SALC Fellow) On Sunday 28 April, starting at around midnight, people in Benin were unable to access social media sites and apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, and Viber.  The partial shutdown was followed by a…

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11 Mar 2019 Staff Writer
SALC Research Report: Alignment of Eswatini’s Domestic Laws with Recommend...

It is more than seventy years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted yet the struggle to achieve full realisation of human rights remains a pressing reality. One of the challenges hampering the enjoyment of human rights…

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08 Mar 2019 Staff Writer
The Gender Gap in Southern African Politics: The gap between the law and reality...

Participation in the political process is at the heart of democratic values.  Democratic election of leaders is a civic exercise of selecting leaders that can best represent the interest of the voter.  Public offices across Southern Africa have had consistently…

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