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 The Centre takes responsibility for the study in Africa. The focus is on examining the utility and relevance of human rights law in the 21st century, an issue that is of concern to state actors (governments, legislatures and judiciaries), civil society actors, human rights bodies, and victims (and potential victims) of human rights violations.
In 2016 the Centre continued to follow up on
cases decided by various African Union human
rights bodies, in particular the case of Shumba v Zimbabwe. In a landmark decision in 2013, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights found the government of Zimbabwe in violation of the African Charter and ordered it to carry out an investigation of those responsible, and to pay Gabriel Shumba adequate compensation. To date, none
of the recommendations have been implemented. The Centre’s Human Rights Implementation Unit has embarked on an advocacy campaign aimed at applying pressure on African governments to comply with the decisions of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.
Graduates of the Centre’s academic programmes have collaborated to undertake a study of the impact of the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol. This study resulted in a publication: Victor Oluwasine Ayeni (ed), 2016. The impact of the African Charter and the Maputo Protocol in selected African states, published by the Pretoria University Law Press (PULP).
The year 2016 was a year of celebration, with the Centre for Human Rights and the African human rights system commemorating 30 years of existence.
Amid the dark days of apartheid, and the emergence of states of emergencies, the Centre was established in 1986 by a small group of visionary academics in the Faculty of Law at
the University of Pretoria. In its first decade (1985–1996), the Centre and its staff played an important role in South Africa’s constitutional developments. In the Centre’s next decade (1997–2006), its focus became increasingly more pan-African, as captured in its three flagship programmes: the launch of the Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa; the publication of the African Human Rights Law Journal, first appearing in 2001; and the all-African participation of continental universities in the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition.
The Director at the time, Professor Christof Heyns, was instrumental in setting up many of these initiatives. The third decade (2007−2016) saw the Centre becoming an academic department in the Faculty of Law, and subsequently introducing a number of further academic programmes, including one for doctoral students; and extending its activities in pursuit of raising greater awareness and creating capacity to strengthen the African human rights system. Professor Frans Viljoen, the current Director of the Centre, has been at the helm
since 2007.
        CHR staff Yolanda Booyzen, Frans Viljoen, Norman Taku, Yusuf Sayaad and Jehoshaphat John Njau.
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