Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) continues to be a prominent South African human rights organisation committed to social justice activism and strategic public interest litigation. Founded in 1979 in response to the increasingly repressive apartheid regime, LHR lawyers provided legal support to political prisoners, communities faced with forced removals and actively campaigned against the death penalty.


This year, LHR continued to use the South African Constitution as a transformative instrument for change and to deepen the democratisation of South African society. The organisation provides a full range of free legal services to individuals, social movements and marginalised communities through targeted advocacy and strategic litigation.

Download the Draft Annual Report here: 

The year 2015 was particularly interesting for South Africa as a whole, it has been dubbed as the year where “things fell in South Africa” from the apartheid statues to “Fees must fall”. What was particularly important was seeing young South Africans coming together to advocate for social change, this reminded us as a country that in a democratic state such as ours, there is no room for inequality, discrimination and social exclusion of the poor.

Lawyers for Human Rights continued to do a lot of work in its various programmes.

Download our Draft 2015 Annual Report here:

This year marks many important milestones – 20 years of democracy in South Africa and 50 years since the Rivonia treason trial took place. We are also celebrating the 35th anniversary of LHR with our two sister organisations: the Legal Resources Centre and Centre for Applied Legal Studies.
We are fortunate to have a dedicated and diverse team of activist lawyers, paralegals and support staff that makes LHR an effective human rights watchdog.
Download our Annual Report here: 


The human toll of the abrupt closure of the Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine in 2013 is devastating, according to a new FIDH and LHR report. The two human rights organisations documented a widespread and precipitous decline in both environmental and socio-economic standards, since the Mine's collapse. FIDH and LHR condemn, in their report, the role of corporate and state actors who did not comply with their obligations, abandoning the community of 6000 residents.


“The catastrophe at Blyvooruitzicht is the result of a toxic cocktail involving private sector abdication of responsibility, inadequate implementation of the existing legislative framework and lack of anticipation of the severity of the impacts of a sudden liquidation of a major mining operation,” affirmed Michael Clements, lawyer and head of the Environmental Rights Program at LHR.


The  Blyvooruitzicht Gold Mine used to be one of the world’s largest and most profitable mining concerns, purportedly yielding some one million kilograms of precious metals over its 70 years of operation. The report reveals that today 75% of the community is unemployed. Close to 60% of them reported not having enough money to buy food, and a similar percentage reported being unable to support their children. All community members face problems of regular access to water and electricity. 


“We have been dumped by the government and the gold mine,” said a member of the community interviewed during the research process.


Download the full report here: 


The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) recently released its concluding recommendations on South Africa’s compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee expressed concern with regards to childhood statelessness in South Africa. The Committee made no less than 12 recommendations on the documentation of children and resolving statelessness.


One recommendation expressly states that South Africa should ‘put in place regulations to grant nationality to all children in the jurisdiction of the State party who are or are at risk of being stateless’ as well as a recommendation to ‘review and amend all legislation … (on) birth registration and nationality … which have a discriminatory impact’. The UN Committee also urges South Africa to ‘systematically identify all undocumented children currently residing in Child and Youth Care Centres (CYCCs) and ensure their access to birth certificates and nationalities’ and to ratify the UN statelessness conventions. On refugee children the committee urges South Africa to strengthen data collection, streamline registration and documentation, ensure that the Refugee Amendment Bill is in line with the Convention and consider a providing permanent settlement to unaccompanied children.


LHR has documented case studies and suggested solutions to these problems. We submitted a report to Committee in collaboration with the Institute for Statelessness and Inclusion. Find the submissions here

Childhood statelessness in South Africa is a generally unaddressed, largely preventable, but growing phenomenon. This short publication presents the experiences of nine children who have been let down by the system, denied their right to acquire a nationality and rendered stateless in South Africa. The many issues that come to rise through their stories and the proposed solutions were brought to the attention of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee) by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion (ISI) in a joint submission to the Committee in 2015.1 South Africa’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are such that all children in the country who would otherwise be stateless, should have the right to acquire a nationality: no child should be left stateless (Article 7 of the Convention). This obligation is reiterated in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition Article 28 of the South African Constitution protects the right of every child to a name and a nationality from birth and more broadly protects a common citizenship. 

Despite its international and domestic obligations, South Africa’s legislative framework collectively creates and perpetuates childhood statelessness. Discrimination in the South African Citizenship Act, 1995 can be seen in the stories illustrated in this publication. Positive provisions are constrained by restrictive birth registration requirements of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (BDRA), 1992, which can lead to statelessness. The Immigration Act, 2004 also fails stateless unaccompanied migrant children who cannot be returned to their country of origin by not providing them with a legal immigration status.

South Africa is regrettably not a signatory to the 1954 UN Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. 

Download the report here:


The report “Queue Here for Corruption: Measuring Irregularities in South Africa’s Asylum System” comes as SA grapples with xenophobic violence, incoherent changes to the country’s immigration policies and dubious attempts by  various spheres of government to address these issues.

The urgent high court application to interdict the government from continuing with Operation Fiela-Reclaim raids unless legislative provisions are adhered to has been removed from the urgent roll in the high court in Pretoria.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) brought the challenge in light of grave concerns around the legality of Operation Fiela-Reclaim - a joint operation conducted by the police, army and department of home affairs.  Specifically, LHR views the decision to implement raids in the early hours of the morning, in “cordoned off” areas with the army and Department of Home Affairs (and without the warrants required by legislation) as blatantly unlawful. The raids also appear to target non-nationals despite claims to the contrary.

Attached are the court documents for the case from all parties: