This past year has been a difficult one here in South Africa, but globally as well. While the world started opening up again following the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, people were optimistic that life would go back to some sort of normal, but that has not been the case. We now seem to be on the doorstep of a global recession, with the majority of people battling to get by as the cost of living continues to increase, exacerbated by the war between Russia and Ukraine.
This all sounds like doom and gloom, and yes there has been a regression in a whole range of human rights, especially social, economic and cultural rights, but this is why as Amnesty International South Africa (AISA) we will continue to fight for the realisation of everyone’s rights.
This year has really brought to the fore the fact that the right to life and safety in South Africa is not being taken seriously by duty bearers.
Women and girls continue to live in fear because of the high rate of gender-based violence, while the high crime rate in general in South Africa continues unabated. But despite this there has once again been very little action from the police all the way through the justice system.
AISA has continued to try to engage with Police Minister Bheki Cele on these issues but he continues to ignore us. After little to no response to private letters, we sent out an open letter asking for transparency and information on the DNA backlog which is impeding access to justice for victims of crime, especially gender-based violence (GBV). And still we got nothing, except the minister making comments in the media about how human rights activists were more concerned with perpetrators than victims. The goal posts for clearing the ring-fenced backlog keeps getting pushed. First it was meant to be cleared by October this year, now we are being told by the end of January 2023. We will continue to monitor this and make our voices heard.
Children are still being forced to use archaic and degrading pit toilets in schools across the country, violating their rights to health, safety, dignity and life. Some have even died falling into these cesspools.
AISA is still pushing the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to eradicate these pit toilets, as is the legal requirement. In response to a media interview done by our researcher Marike Keller, the department’s spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga told SAFM these illegal pit toilets would be eradicated by the end of March 2023. The government is trying to evade accountability by making proposed changes to the minimum norms and standards on school infrastructure effectively removing all deadlines, but this will not stop us. We have made a submission on this and we will continue to hold the DBE accountable to its commitment to ensure these disgusting toilets are no more next year.
A big concern this year, that seems to continue to increase as things get hard, is the vitriol expressed towards migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa, and the rise of vigilante groups who are taking the law into their own hands.
AISA will not keep quiet about this. Police need to take action against these vigilante groups who are violating people’s rights to safety, security, dignity and life, and fueling xenophobia, otherwise the message being sent is that it is acceptable for these illegal operations to continue.
Whistleblowers and human rights defenders also continue to be treated with disdain and are either being killed or intimidated for doing the right thing, while attacks on civil society organisations, especially by government officials, continues. This goes against South Africa’s constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and undermines our democracy.
When looking back on this, it’s easy to say “it’s been a hard year”, but there is also a lot to look forward to.
The AISA team will continue to do what is necessary to contribute to a South Africa where everyone’s rights are realised.
On that note, there are many exciting projects to look forward to in 2023, including new research projects, ongoing and new campaigns, and our work with Chapters and volunteers will continue.
To stay updated, follow us on social media at @AmnestySAfrica and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Team about any questions you may have.
As an organisation, we are moving into exciting times as we obtain what is called “section status”. This will give South Africa a vote in the broader Amnesty movement at the Global Assembly, contributing towards giving our continent more of a voice. Other national offices like Kenya, will be doing the same. This we could not have done without the help of our brilliant team here in South Africa, but also could not be achieved without all our members, activists and supporters.
Thank you to everyone for your commitment and passion, and for continuing to take injustice
personally under times of uncertainty.
My team and I look forward to working with you in 2023, and are ready to continue contributing towards making a difference.
LET’S DEMAND JUSTICE FOR FIKILE AND ALL THOSE WHO HAVE STOOD UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT
By genevieve quintal, Amnesty International South Africa’s media & Communications officer
International Human Rights Day (10 December) is the start of Amnesty International’s largest global campaign, Write for Rights.
This year Write for Rights is speaking up for those who have paid a heavy price for speaking out. This is why Amnesty International South Africa this year is fighting for justice for environmental activist and human rights defender, Fikile Ntshangase, who was silenced with six bullets in 2020.
Fikile was gunned down in her home at Ophondweni, near Mtubatuba, on 22 October 2020. She was a vocal opponent of the open coal mine at Somkhele on the border of the iMfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal by Tendele Coal Mining and its proposed expansion of mining operations in the area.
It was because Fikile was a vocal opponent of the expansion of the mining operations in her community that she received threats, was intimidated, and eventually silenced.
It has been two years since Fikile was murdered and yet no one has been held accountable for her murder. It is alleged that the three hitmen who took Fikile’s life are known to the police in the area, but yet there have been no arrests. This lack of accountability means that activists like Fikile continue to be at risk.
Since 2016, there has been growing opposition against Tendele Coal Mining Limited by residents of Somkhele. Marches against the expansion of mining operations in the area have reportedly ended with a memorandum of grievances presented to the relevant authorities and stakeholders. Many community members have reportedly appealed against the mine’s attempted expansion out of fear that the mining venture would lead to their forced eviction and threaten their livelihoods.
Local activists have also reported that current mining activities in the area are having a detrimental impact on the environment, including the quality of air and water.
Lack of protection and safety
The government has an obligation to ensure the protection and safety of people living in the country, and uphold their right to say no to mining in their communities. Sadly, for many human rights defenders this is not the case, leaving those who are fighting to defend their rights and those of others, largely without protection.
We need to continue demanding justice for Fikile and her family, until those who are responsible are brought to book. Without these consequences there is very little deterrence for those who perpetuate these crimes.
It is concerning that human rights defenders in South Africa are not protected.
These people, who are risking their lives in order to protect the people of South Africa and combat corruption, advocate for human rights, or better the lives of others, are treated with such disdain by the state.
Human rights defenders and whistleblowers are critical to any democracy because they are a warning sign that lets us know as society, as authorities, that something is going wrong. They expose acts of criminality and abuse by governments, corporations, organisations and individuals. Without whistleblowers, evidence of large-scale human rights violations would never surface.
We are lucky that there are still people out there who are prepared to put their lives on the line to do the right thing, but the concern is that because of this lack of protection and disdain for their lives, this could also be a deterrent for some who might want to come forward and speak out or stand up for what is right.
Let us show human rights defenders and whistleblowers that we are on their side and let us demand justice for Fikile.
Take action and demand that those responsible for her killing are immediately arrested and prosecuted.
TAKE ACTION AND DEMAND JUSTICE.
Intimidated, threatened and in the end, silenced – respected environmental human rights defender Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down in her home near Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal. Fikile was a vocal opponent of the expansion of mining operations in her community.
Fikile was a mother, grandmother, teacher, and respected activist who loved gardening and looking after those she cared about.
But on 22 October 2020 in the early evening, Fikile was shot six times and killed inside her home, allegedly by three hitmen known to police in the area. Her body was found by her then 13-year-old grandson.
Fikile was part of the Somkhele community, living near the Tendele coal mine, owned by Tendele Coal Mine (Pty) Ltd, a subsidiary of Petmin. As Vice-Chairperson of a sub-committee part of the iMfolozi Community Environment Justice Organisation, a community-based organisation advocating for environmental justice in the area, she was a vocal opponent of the open coal mine and its expansion of mining operations in the area.
Those close to Fikile speak to the intimidation and threats she and other activists received following the growing opposition against Tendele Coal Mining Limited in 2016. This was due to fear that the mining venture would lead to their forced eviction and threaten their livelihoods.
Under international and national law, the South African government has an obligation to ensure the protection and safety of its people. But sadly, for many HRDs this is not always the case, leaving those who are fighting to defend their rights and those of others largely without protection. This is all too common for activists in mining-affected communities who face the brunt of the devastating impacts of mining activities.
Without accountability, we will continue to see activists threatened, intimidated, and killed. We all need to fight for justice for Fikile because if there is no accountability for her, there is no accountability for anyone.
Take action and demand those responsible for Fikile’s killing are immediately arrested and prosecuted.
YOUR WORDS HAVE POWER.
In a world where the opinions of people are often repressed, protecting human rights, land, and the environment becomes more and more dangerous.
The world needs more people to turn their outrage into action, to invite their friends and family to participate, to get involved, and demand equality and justice from their governments.
For over 20 years, Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights campaign has transformed the lives of people whose rights have been wronged. Using the power of their words, Write for Rights supporters have united behind a common purpose: together, we can change lives for the better.
This year Write for Rights is speaking up for those who have paid a heavy price for speaking out.
Write for Rights 2022 is campaigning for 13 individuals from every region of the world who have suffered as a result of repression. They include a lawyer from Hong Kong jailed for encouraging people to light candles to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown; an Iranian man jailed and tortured for peacefully protesting against inequality and political repression who has been held in solitary confinement for more than two years; and three Zimbabwean activists who were abducted, beaten, sexually assaulted and jailed because of their activism.
Writing a letter, sending a tweet, signing a petition. Surely you can’t change the world with something so simple? Yes, you can!
Join the campaign here and change a life today
What’s new?! – the shifting of goal posts, lack of accountability and empty promises by government
By Marike Keller, Researcher at Amnesty International South Africa
A few years ago, the Ministry of Police committed to releasing quarterly crime statistics. This was something civil society had advocated for for a long time, as a means to increase accountability and monitor the South African Police Service. It was an easy win for them and thus far is one of the very few commitments the state has delivered on in the fight against crime.
The quarterly crime statistics paint a dismal picture. Every three months we are reminded that gender-based violence cases are on the increase as we continue to see a rise in reported contact crimes being committed against women. Between July and September 2022, rape increased by 10.8% and the murder of women by 10.3%, compared to the same period the previous year.
Following many years of uproar by civil society, President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted the first Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Summit in 2018, where he committed to the development of a National Strategic Plan on GBVF. This promise was realised a few years later, when in 2020 the plan was adopted. Yet a review of the first year of its implementation showed that only 55% of targets were met. We are now heading into the third year of the plan, and the National Council, a body intended to provide oversight and ensure the implementation of the plan, has still not been established. This despite the budget being allocated to the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities every year to establish the Council. Where did the money go? Only now has a Bill been tabled, to establish this Council and it does not come without critiques. The second GBVF Summit was held in November 2022. They acknowledge that progress has been slow and have resolved to deepen state accountability. Is this another empty promise we can expect?
But that’s not all. In March this year, Police Minister Bheki Cele promised that the DNA backlog – crucial for the investigation and prosecution of cases of GBV – would be cleared by September. Yet once again, the goal posts have shifted. The DNA Board (an oversight body on matters related to forensics) appeared in Parliament in October to provide the Portfolio Committee on Police with an update, where the minister then said the backlog would be cleared by the end of January 2023. It is important to note that in a response Amnesty International South Africa (AISA) received from the DNA Board, they specified that the clearing of the backlog meant of ring-fenced cases, not the entire backlog. Ring-fenced cases were a special project established in June 2021 to isolate the existing backlog at the time, and there is an allowance for a 10% backlog at any given time.
In their response, the DNA Board also sent AISA updated figures. As of 1 December 2022, the DNA backlog stood at 64,911 cases, while the ring-fenced backlog stood at 5,430. What was not clear to us is how many of these were GBV-related, and what percentage of overall cases the 64,911 were and whether these were over the allowed 10%. We have subsequently sent clarifying questions and are still awaiting a response.
We have also written to the Forensic Science Laboratory and have not yet heard from them. We will continue following up.
We cannot accept the shifting of goal posts, lip service, and empty promises being made by the state.
AISA launched its #InterruptBrokenPromises campaign this year highlighting the promises made and broken by the President and government and using this to hold them accountable. Like us, we are sure you are sick and tired of the government saying GBV remains “worrying” and “a concern”.
The police and the state continue to fail all who live in South Africa by not acting. This failure to do more is violating people’s rights to safety, life and dignity. The state has an obligation to protect people’s rights to life and security and we are not seeing this obligation realised. Enough is enough! More action is needed, and it is needed now. We will not stop. Will you? Find out more about our campaign and take action here.
OPEN LETTER: MINISTER CELE IT’S TIME TO CLEAR THE DNA BACKLOG
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SOUTH AFRICA WROTE AN OPEN LETTER TO POLICE MINISTER BHEKI CELE DEMANDING RELIABLE INFORMATION ON THE DNA BACKLOG, AS THE EXISTING BACKLOG AT THE FORENSIC SCIENCE LABORATORIES IS DENYING VICTIMS OF GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE AND FEMICIDE ACCESS TO JUSTICE.
READ THE FULL OPEN LETTER HERE.
READ | Our response to the @AmnestySAfrica open letter to @SAPoliceService Minister Bheki Cele to clear the backlog urgently: https://t.co/BamAdg86JQ @ActionSocietySA @CyrilRamaphosa @PresidencyZA #justice #GBVF #DNAbacklog #DNAdatabase #COBill— DNAforAfrica (@DNAforAfrica) October 5, 2022
16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM AGAINST GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE
LESS TALK, MORE ACTION NEEDED TO TACKLE THE EPIDEMIC OF GBV
Authorities must show that they take women and girls’ rights to safety, dignity and life seriously, and stop paying lip service to this, Amnesty International South Africa said at the launch of 16 Days of Activism against GBV on 25 November.
Two days before the international campaign started, the quarterly crime statistics released by the South African Police Service showed once again that women and girls are not safe. Between July and September this year, 13,283 sexual offences were reported to police, including 10,590 reports of rape, 1,895 reports of sexual assault, 536 attempted sexual offences, and 262 contact sexual offences. There was an increase in all categories of sexual offences compared to the same period last year, showing that things are not getting any better.
Read more about what Amnesty International South Africa had to say here.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN HAS NO BOUNDARIES – IT SPILLS INTO SOCIAL MEDIA. WOMEN ARE BEING TARGETED AND ABUSED, WHETHER IT IS BODY SHAMING, PHYSICAL THREATS OF VIOLENCE OR ATTACKING A WOMAN’S IDENTITY. THIS NEEDS TO END NOW. THERE IS NO SPACE FOR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA- THERE IS NO SPACE FOR IT AT ALL.
SOME WORDS CAN’T BE DELETED
#16DAYS #TOXICTWITTER #ENDGBV #STOPCYBERBULLYING
Social media platforms have the responsibility to respect and protect the human rights of all their users. More needs to be done to prevent and reduce the hateful targeting of LGBTQI+ users. Reminder: some words can’t be deleted ❌ #16Days #ToxicTwitter #EndGBV #StopCyberbullying pic.twitter.com/RHswJi8Fqt— @AmnestySAfrica (@AmnestySAfrica) December 12, 2022
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SOUTH AFRICA HELD TWO LIVE DISCUSSIONS ON INSTAGRAM WITH CHILDREN OF SUCCESS ON THE ISSUE OF EARLY PREGNANCY IN SOUTH AFRICA.
YOU CAN WATCH THE RECORDINGS BELOW.
INTERNATIONAL HUMAn RIGHTS DAY
Leaders in South Africa need to focus on delivering fundamental human rights to all living in the country and put this above the politicking, Amnesty International South Africa said aon International Human Rights Day.
Human Rights Day is observed globally on 10 December. It is the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948.
It also marks the end of 16 Days of Activism Against GBV.
Read what Amnesty International South Africa had to say here.
We cannot allow the mechanisms which ensure accountability in this country to fall away and call on all who live in South Africa to speak out and ensure that this does not happen.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27
The 27th United Nations Climate Change conference, held from 6 November until 20 November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
Whilst there were some positive steps taken at COP27 there remains an overall failure to sufficiently protect humanity from the climate emergency.
Adoption of a Loss and Damage fund:
The decision to adopt a Loss and Damage fund is an important step towards securing climate justice for people in the global south and climate-vulnerable countries. Their human rights have been harmed because of the climate crisis, while their countries have not contributed greatly to carbon emissions. The establishment of the Loss and Damage fund was the result of a united position presented by global south countries and persistent advocacy and campaigning by a wide range of civil society groups. Although much remains to be clarified and accomplished before the people most impacted can access tangible financial support, the decision sends an important and long overdue political signal demonstrating the power of sustained advocacy.
Inclusion of the right to a healthy environment in the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan
We welcome that the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan expands on the Paris Agreement’s inclusion of states’ obligations to respect, protect and promote human rights in climate action by adding the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This is the first time that an environmental negotiation process has referenced this right, providing greater coherence between human rights-consistent approaches and environmental policies. This is the result of sustained pressure from a diverse group of civil society organisations and Indigenous Peoples.
The failure of states to take adequate measure to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degree Celsius:
Overall governments failed to live up to the urgency of an impending climate breakdown. Despite being presented from the outset as the “implementation COP”, no new decisive measure was adopted to ensure global warming is limited to 1.5 degree Celsius. There were no new mechanisms to ensure that states set higher emission reduction targets and take adequate measures in all sectors to achieve those targets. In essence, countries are failing to meet the low targets they have set. In light of the extreme climate-driven disasters that have occurred in the last year and the growing catalogue of reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and others documenting both the impacts and the causes of climate change, this failure to progress on the imperative of phasing out fossil fuels represents an enormous abdication of human rights obligations.
Insufficient commitments on climate finance for mitigation and adaptation
Once again wealthy countries failed to take decisions aligned with their obligations under the Paris Agreement and human rights law to provide adequate finance and technical support to less wealthy countries to reduce their carbon emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. In particular, the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan adopted at COP27:
Failed to mandate that countries prepare a roadmap to achieve and surpass the goal set at COP26 to at least double adaptation finance from 2019 levels by 2025.
Expresses serious concern that the goal of developed countries to jointly mobilise USD 100 billion per year between 2020 and 2025 is not on track to be met.
The surveillance and harassment of observers and restrictions on peaceful protests during COP27
COP27 took place amid an ongoing human rights crisis in Egypt, as the authorities have severely repressed the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power. Amnesty delegates on the group reported that Egyptian authorities sought to intimidate and defame Egyptian activists within the UN space at COP27. Human rights defenders attending COP27 reported being followed by Egyptian security forces inside the Blue Zone. The German embassy in Cairo raised concerns about Egyptian security agents monitoring and filming events at the German Pavilion.
The Egyptian authorities designated a small and remote area for protests outside of the COP venue, which civil society actors refused to accept as it did not meet the requirements for the exercise of their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. This decision, together with the effective criminalisation of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly imposed by the government since 2013, meant that acts of peaceful protest outside the COP27 venue were not possible, including the traditional climate march that typically occurs on the first Saturday of COP in the streets of the host city. Due to these repressive conditions, civil society gatherings were only able to take place inside the COP27 venue.
To learn more and read Amnesty’s recommendation, visit the full document here.
IN THE LEAD UP TO #COP27, THE BIGGEST MOMENT OF THE YEAR FOR THE CLIMATE CHANGE MOVEMENT, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL SOUTH AFRICA PARTNERED UP WITH LOCAL ACTIVISTS TO DISSECT WHAT WE WANT SEE AT THE CONFERENCE.
WATCH A RECORDING OF THE DISCUSSION BELOW.
THE CLIMATE CRISIS IS NOW! WE MARCHED TO DEMAND CLEAN ENERGY AND CLIMATE JUSTICE FROM THE GOVERNMENT #MARCHFORCLIMATEJUSTICE #GREENNEWESKOM @CJCOALITION
Amnesty International South Africa’s Digital Disruptors project officially kicked off in October with 15 activists from Orange Farm and Alexandra selected to be part of the first cohort.
Check out the video below to meet these incredible activists and why disrupting GBV in their communities is important.
The team planned exciting activities for 16 Days of Activism and a creative stunt organised for the 10 December – check out how they went below.
Make sure to follow the Digital Disruptors on the below channels and show your support for their vision to decrease the high levels of GBV in their communities – both of which are recognised as GBV hotspots. Your support will go a long way.
Amnesty International South Africa held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 15 October 2022.
An interim board was appointed at the AGM. This board will be in place for a year and help steer us as we move into section status.
This is a positive move for AISA, which will see us have more independence and more of a say in the global movement, with a vote at the annual general assembly on the strategic way forward for Amnesty International as a whole.
The interim board elected are:
Nicholas Maweni (Chair)
Thank you to all our members who attended and to all who are committed to the organisation and the bettering of human rights in South Africa and globally.
HEAD OF THE NATIONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY’S INVESTIGATING DIRECTORATE, ADVOCATE ANDREA JOHNSON, WAS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THIS YEAR’S AGM.
LISTEN TO HER MESSAGE TO THE YOUTH ABOUT HOW THEY CAN USE THEIR PEOPLE POWER.
We are deeply concerned that @eThekwiniM declared many beaches in #Durban safe for swimming despite reports that water quality standards are not acceptable. With reports of people falling sick, @eThekwiniM must ensure the health & safety of people are prioritised over profits.— @AmnestySAfrica (@AmnestySAfrica) December 6, 2022
JUST IN: Between July & Sept this year, 13,283 sexual offences were reported, including:— @AmnestySAfrica (@AmnestySAfrica) November 23, 2022
👉10,590 reports of rape
👉1,895 reports of sexual assault
👉536 attempted sexual offences
👉262 contact sexual offences
We are concerned that justice has been pushed further away for the victims of the #Krugersdorp rapes. @SAPoliceService & @NPASouthAfrica must conduct thorough, timely & transparent investigations to ensure they are bringing perpetrators to court.— @AmnestySAfrica (@AmnestySAfrica) October 28, 2022
The discovery of the bodies of 6 women in Joburg is a disturbing reminder of the high levels of violence against women in SA. Some of the women were reportedly sex workers, highlighting the urgent need to decriminalise sex work to provide some level of safety for sex workers.— @AmnestySAfrica (@AmnestySAfrica) October 11, 2022
The death of a girl who was allegedly raped & then turned away at a Gqeberha clinic is deeply concerning & a sad reminder of how @GovernmentZA institutions continue to fail victims of GBV. @SAPoliceService @HealthZA must ensure a thorough & transparent inquest takes place.— @AmnestySAfrica (@AmnestySAfrica) September 28, 2022
In the fourth quarter of 2022, Amnesty International South Africa carried out 24 interviews, on various topics such as gender-based violence, the DNA backlog, the decriminalisation of sex work, human rights defenders and early pregnancy.
On 3 October 2022, Amnesty International South Africa Campaigner Sibusiso Khasa spoke to eNCA about our open letter to Police Minister Bheki Cele on the DNA backlog and how it is denying victims of gender-based violence and femicide access to justice.
Watch the interview here.
On 4 October 2022, Amnesty International South Africa Researcher Consultant Cassandra Dorasamy spoke to LotusFM about the crisis of early pregnancy.
Listen to the interview here.
On 12 October 2022, Amnesty International South Africa Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed spoke to Newzroom Afrika about the decriminalisation of sex work after six women were found dead in the Johannesburg CBD.
Watch the interview here.
On 21 October 2022, Amnesty International South Africa’s Activism Coordinator: Mobilising Alicia Jooste, spoke to Newzroom Afrika about our Write for Rights campaign seeking justice for environmental activist and human rights defender Fikile Ntshangase who was murdered two years ago.
Watch the interview here.
On 25 November 2022, Shenilla Mohamed spoke to SAFM about the start of the global campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against GBV.
Listen to the interview here.
Amnesty International South Africa’s youth and chapters play an integral part in the organisation achieving its human rights objectives. This quarter, the youth have contributed significantly to growth targets and through their campaigns, proved that systemic change can happen. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this year –
Rejoyce Makhetha, Activism Coordinator: Organising
SOWETO CHAPTER LAUNCH
Activists launched a community chapter in Protea, Soweto on 1 October 2022. The chapter’s main objectives are to provide human rights education as well as run human rights campaigns on issues such as service delivery in the community.
AI WITS TRIVIA NIGHT
Amnesty Wits in collaboration with other student societies on campus hosted a queer trivia night on Friday 14 October 2022 in celebration of pride month, and to raise awareness around the rights of the LGBQTI community.
ORANGE FARM GBV WORKSHOP
We Strive to Live, a community organisation working on GBV and youth empowerment in Orange Farm, invited AISA to partner with it in a collaborative march and community workshop. The event attracted over 100 community members and facilitated meaningful intergenerational dialogue between young and old.
AI VAAL (SAVANNAH) – AMALUNGELO WETHU FILM SCREENING
The community chapter hosted a two-day film screening called Amalungelo Wethu which took place between 12-13 November at Savannah City. The focus was educating people about human rights, GBV, climate change, teenage pregnancy as well as facilitating a space for engagement on these human rights issues and challenges faced by the community.
VAAL (EVATON) – EARLY PREGNANCY
As part of its GBV and early pregnancy work, the community chapter held a youth and community discussion on early pregnancy. The aim was to provide human rights education as well as make the link between GBV and early pregnancy. The event also facilitated a space for community members to share their GBV and early pregnancy experiences.
On 15 and 16 November 2022, AISA hosted its activist training to induct the incoming 2023 university and community chapter leaders on the organisation’s ways of working and upcoming campaigns. At the end of the training, university chapters decided that their priority youth-led campaign for 2023 would focus on mental health while the community chapters decided to prioritise GBV and will be developing a community chapter-led campaign.
SUPPORTERS ASSEMBLY 2022
AISA hosted its supporters assembly on 19 November 2022 where all our activists and activist groups showcased the campaigns and projects they worked on in 2022.
The assembly included a prize giving ceremony, honouring the most impactful projects and activists of the year.
The winners were:
Best #Climatejustice Initiative: AI Vaal Savannah City – Picture Chats And Human Rights Education Workshop
Best Gender-Based Violence Initiative: AI Vaal Evaton – Kasi To Kasi Dialogue
Youth Activist Of The Year: Tara Boulle
Activist Of The Year: Samson Mabuza
Watch a recording of the assembly below.
AI Vaal (Evaton)
The AI Vaal community chapter hosted a Write for Rights event on 26 November 2022, in honour of environmental activist, Fikile Ntshangase. The chapter invited community members as well as local groups to join the event and managed to collect 80 actions from the event.
School W4Rs Event
On 28 November, Adam Fairall, a member of AISA and an English teacher at Reddam High School organised a school W4Rs event.
Here is what Adam had to say about the event:
Students at Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard collectively wrote letters and postcards standing in solidarity with Fikile Ntshangase the environmental activist, who in 2020 was gunned down in her home after raising concerns about the environmental impact of mining operations expansion in her community.
Altogether, about 60 letters and postcards were written in the space of an hour supporting Fikile and her family and a call to justice on their behalf to the Minister of Police Bheki Cele.
After the writing event, the students said they really enjoyed writing in support of a cause that is important and they hoped that their contribution would support Fikile’s family in attaining justice.
We are so grateful to Amnesty International South Africa for the opportunity to write for the rights of those around us who stand against humanitarian and environmental atrocities.
Supporter Event – Newcastle
Nkanyiso Mthombeni who is a climate action and environmental rights campaigner and activist based in Newcastle partnered with AISA and hosted a community discussion on 8 November 2022 to discuss the challenges faced by human rights defenders (HRDs) within the environment and mining sector.
Those who attended the event took action for AISA’s Write for Rights case, Fikile Ntshangase as well as provided human rights education on the rights of HRDs.
The Durban community chapter in collaboration with partners hosted a dialogue on 10 December 2022 on anti-corruption and celebrating international Human Rights Day.
AI Vaal – Right to Water
AISA introduced climate justice as a human rights issue to our members, activists and supporters.
Since 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, AISA hosted community radio discussions on the right to water and asked members of the community to submit videos of themselves and the water situation in their community. From that point on it was established that water was a right and not a privilege. We also linked it to other rights such as the right to sanitation and health.
In the lead up to local government elections in 2021 community members were taken on the next phase of the journey where they were able to make the link between the right to water and service delivery.
In 2022, the community was introduced to the right to water as a climate justice issue and were taken through workshops which led to in-depth conversations on the issue using AISA’s “Right to water in South Africa in the face of the climate crisis” toolkit. An example of how the workshop yielded impact, was when the AI Vaal chapter wrote letters to the local municipality demanding that their water issues be addressed. This resulted in the ward councillor delivering on the community’s demands.
AI Wits – Period Poverty
The Amnesty International Wits University chapter has been advocating for free sanitary products at the institution since 2016.
The campaign has been ongoing as they still wait for the university to deliver on the students’ demands. It has, however, gone on to spark a conversation on period poverty at the university and has achieved national and international recognition putting pressure on the university to respond.
The campaign contributed to Wits University, in November 2022, committing to providing free sanitary pads to students.
Amnesty International South Africa publishes a monthly youth newsletter, YOU(th) for YOU(th), where you can see more of what our youth activists are doing and get their views on human rights issues.
You can find all our youth newsletters here.
You can read the two most recent editions below.
Matla! Ke a rona! (The power is ours!)
Angola: Authorities must account for missing five-year-old following violent raid in Ndamba
Authorities in Angola must account for the whereabouts of a five-year-old boy who went missing after police raided the Mucubai Community in Ndamba area in the outskirts of the city of Moçâmedes, the capital of Namibe Province in which 16 houses were torched and personal belongings including blankets, clothes and water containers set alight, Amnesty International said on 20 October 2022.
Five-year-old Mbapamuhuka Caçador disappeared following the raid on 12 October by Rapid Intervention Police, which was sparked by a land dispute. Residents fear the boy may have been burned alive in one of the houses attacked by police as they unleashed violence on the community.
Read the full statement here.
Madagascar: Executive Director of Transparency International Initiative Madagascar summoned after denouncing corruption
Responding to the questioning of the Executive Director of Transparency International Initiative Madagascar (TI-MG) Ketakandriana Rafitoson by the police on 23 November 2022, Muleya Mwananyanda, Regional Director for Amnesty International East and Southern Africa Regional Office said.
“The Madagascar authorities must refrain from the misuse of the justice system to harass and intimidate human rights defenders. Ketakandriana has done nothing more than carry out her work exposing serious allegations of potential corruption, fraud and money laundering,” she said.
Read the full statement here.
South Sudan: African Union must set precedent for African-led justice by establishing court for South Sudan
Ahead of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) meeting on South Sudan on 30 November, Amnesty International and the South Sudanese Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) have called on the African Union to speed up the formation of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCSS).
The AUPSC must call on the African Union Commission to ensure an effective legal mechanism exists to investigate and prosecute serious human right violations and abuses in South Sudan including the deliberate killing of civilians, rape and other sexual violence, forced recruitment of child soldiers and displacement.
Read the full statement here.
Malawi: Killing of a girl with albinism shows community urgently needs better protection
The killing of a three-year-old girl shows the urgent need to better protect people with albinism following a series of attacks over recent weeks, Amnesty International said on 2 December 2022.
Amnesty International calls on the authorities to improve the protection of persons with albinism across the country after the killing of this week of Tadala Chirwa. Before midnight on 30 November, an unidentified man broke into her grandmother’s house where she was sleeping and killed her, before chopping off her left arm and taking it away.
“The horrific nature of the death of Tadala Chirwa is deeply shocking, and a cause of great concern,” said Vongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for Southern Africa.
Read the full statement here.
Qatar: Six things you need to know about the hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicking off in Qatar on 20 November, the Gulf state will be under the global spotlight. Since FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar in 2010, the dire situation for migrant workers in the country has been widely publicized. Migrants and domestic workers continue to face a range of abuses including wage theft, forced labour, and exploitation.
But the treatment of migrant workers is just one of a range of violations that make up the state’s troubling human rights record. Qatar’s authorities repress freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of association; unfair trials remain concerning; women continue to face discrimination in law and practice; and laws continue to discriminate against LGBT individuals.
Read about the six things here.
In May this year, a coalition of human rights organisations—including Amnesty International—fans groups and trade unions launched a global campaign calling on Qatar and FIFA to compensate migrant workers for human rights abuses endured to make the world cup a reality.
Our campaign has been publicly supported by multiple football associations, fans groups, and FIFA World Cup sponsors. Our global opinion poll also showed the campaign is backed by the vast majority of the public – but despite this, neither FIFA nor Qatar have yet responded.
Sign the petition here and call on Qatar and FIFA to do the right thing.
Iran: More than 760,000 people around the world calling for UN investigative mechanism on Iran
More than 760,000 people across 218 countries and territories have added their voices to petitions calling for the establishment of an independent UN mechanism to conduct investigations as a step towards pursuing accountability for the most serious crimes under international law committed in Iran, Amnesty International said in November 2022.
On 2 November, Nazanin Boniadi, a British-Iranian actor and Amnesty International UK Ambassador, conveyed people’s demands for immediate action by the UN Human Rights Council to United Nations officials in New York. Amnesty International national entities across the world also delivered petitions to their ministries of foreign affairs.
Read the full statement here.
Ukraine: Russia’s unlawful transfer of civilians a war crime and likely a crime against humanity – new report
Russian authorities forcibly transferred and deported civilians from occupied areas of Ukraine in what amounted to war crimes and likely crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said in a new report published on 10 November 2022.
The report, “Like a Prison Convoy”: Russia’s Unlawful Transfer of Civilians in Ukraine and Abuses During ‘Filtration’, details how Russian and Russian-controlled forces forcibly transferred civilians from occupied Ukraine further into Russian-controlled areas or into Russia. Children have been separated from their families during the process, in violation of international humanitarian law.
Civilians told Amnesty International how they were forced through abusive screening processes – known as ‘filtration’ – which sometimes resulted in arbitrary detention, torture, and other ill-treatment.
Read the full statement here.
Israel/OPT: Solidarity with Palestinians means ending all support for apartheid
On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Amnesty International reiterated its call for global action to end the system of apartheid which Israeli authorities enforce against Palestinians with impunity.
This system has become increasingly violent and oppressive over the past year – in the West Bank, Israeli forces have killed 127 Palestinians since January and injured hundreds more, and there has also been a surge in assaults and violence against Palestinians by state-backed settlers.
Israeli authorities have ramped up their use of administrative detention to hold Palestinians without charge or trial, and intensified their attacks on Palestinian civil society organizations. In Gaza, the Israeli military’s August offensive exacerbated the dire humanitarian crisis generated by Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade.
Read the full statement here.