Lawyers for Human Rights has six programme areas that focus on promoting and protecting rights of the marginalised in post-apartheid South Africa.

Environmental Rights Programme

The Environmental Rights Programme focuses on environmental justice for marginalised communities and individuals. It seeks to promote and enforce the constitutional environmental right, as well as a just distribution of environmental benefits and burdens in our society more generally.


The Environmental Rights Programme seeks to counter the fundamental injustice that communities living in poverty frequently experience, in bearing the burdens associated with development: environmental degradation, negative socio-economic impacts, and limited ability to participate meaningful in the decisions that affect their well-being.

This programme aims to contribute to the realisation of rights through public interest litigation, policy advocacy, and education and support for community coalition-building to promote meaningful participation by disempowered parties in decisions related to development.

The programme’s strategic interventions reflect the close connection between environmental and other socio-economic rights, and we are guided in this by the communities we serve.

Several key objectives guide the efforts of the Environmental Rights Programme, including:

  • Promoting and protecting the rights of communities experiencing disproportionate, negative environmental and socio economic burdens associated with development, including with respect to public participation and access to information;
  • Working to ensure adequate implementation and enforcement of mining and environmental legislation, including developing and promoting better policy in these areas; and
  • Promoting respect for human rights by corporations, particularly in the extractive space, where the myriad negative impacts and scope for human rights violations of this industry continue to be borne by the communities that host these operations

To get in touch with the Environmental Rights Programme, send an email to Michael Clements (Head of Programme) or call the Johannesburg LHR office on 011 339 1960.

Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme/Statelessness

LHR established the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme (RMRP) in 1996. Walk-in law clinics provide legal advice and representation, to ensure due process for asylum seekers and refugees. The programme also builds networks and is part of the social justice movement to combat xenophobia through engagement and education at community level. We advocate for the prevention of xenophobia, and work to promote access to protection for asylum seekers and refugees.

Strategic Litigation Programme

Strategic Litigation Programme litigates strategic and public interest cases that have the potential to improve the law and make a difference in peoples’ lives. The programme is active in its own litigation projects, as well as in supporting the litigation of LHR’s other programmes.

Penal Reform Programme

South Africa’s prisons and penal system have been plagued by grave concerns for years despite their being robust and progressive legislation protecting the rights of accused persons and sentenced offenders. The Penal Reform Programme is a response to the growing need for the protection and fulfilment of such rights. We seek to achieve this through strategic litigation, research and advocacy.

Land and Housing Programme

The Land and Housing Programme aims to protect the constitutional property rights of all disadvantaged and vulnerable people in South Africa. The programme is a leading advocate in efforts to address failed land reform programs, land claims, developing common law and ownership, regularising legal entities holding land, communal land and mining issues, large scale evictions, and other property rights.

Gender Equality Programme

The Gender Equality Programme pursues systemic remedies for gender-based violence and discrimination in South Africa and the region. It also provides capacity and technical expertise to other LHR programmes. The programme serves women and girls, and LGBTIQ+ communities.