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  • Removal of stigmatising and marginalising laws including those criminalising consensual same-sex sexual acts, and outdated mental health laws.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

South Africa: Jonathan Dubula Qwelane V South African Human Rights Commission and Another
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

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