We have six strategic programmes staffed by specialist practitioners, each focusing on a specific aspect of human rights law. We help vulnerable, marginalised, and indigent people and communities. Our services are free of charge.
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.
LHR established the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme 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.
This LHR programme is the largest legal service provider to refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. Our Refugee and Migrant Rights walk-in clinics can be found at our offices in:
To get in touch with the Refugee & Migrant Rights Programme, email Sharon Ekambaram (Head of Programme) or call the Johannesburg LHR office on 011 339 1960.
This programme also has the following units:
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.
The Programme’s objective is to use the law as a positive instrument for change and to deepen the democratisation of South African society. To this end, it provides legal services free of charge to vulnerable, marginalised, and indigent individuals and to communities whose constitutional rights have been infringed.
The Programme has achieved many successes since its inception in 2003. It focuses much of its attention on ensuring just administrative action for indigent persons and communities. A considerable amount of time is also spent on refugee law and labour matters, as well as combatting unfair discrimination.
The Programme features four distinct units:
LHR has a long and successful track record as an advocate for human rights in the workplace. The Programme’s labour unit specialises in litigating on behalf of workers, focusing primarily on the rights of low-income workers in vulnerable employment settings. To strengthen protections for to low-paid and precarious workers, we have been involved in the national campaign against labour broking. As a part of this campaign we seek to improve workers’ access to justice, to prevent employers from escaping their legal responsibilities, and to ensure that all workers are treated fairly.
LHR has represented groups of workers at various arbitrations and Labour Court reviews. LHR has also intervened in several strategic matters that have set out the proper interpretation and application of laws enacted to protect labour broker workers.
At LHR, we believe that the right to protest lies at the heart of South Africa’s modern democracy. The right to protest is an essential element of a free society, a sword with which to attack unjust systems and a shield against unfair treatment. LHR stands for everyone’s right to protest in South Africa.
LHR’s protest unit uses litigation and public education initiatives to guard protesters against unfair treatment. In 2015, LHR, together with other organisations in the sector, convened to form what is now known as the Right 2 Protest entity (R2P). LHR continues to play a key role in the Right 2 Protest network’s steering committee. The network seeks to help communities overcome the obstacles faced by those exercising their right to protest.
International criminal law deals with the criminal responsibility of individuals for the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The main categories of international crimes are war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of aggression. LHR recognises that criminal accountability for the most heinous crimes is critically important to providing victims with redress and justice, as well as to deterring future violations. These types of crimes not only affect a considerable number of victims, but they also destabilise regions and economies. We are committed using litigation as tool towards ensuring South Africa’s judicial system plays its part in upholding International Criminal Law.
To get in touch with the Strategic Litigation Programme, email Wayne Ncube (Head of Programme), or call the Johannesburg LHR office at 011 339 1960.
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.
The programme’s objectives and interventions are shaped by the needs of the those it serves. And when necessary or required we represent the experience, needs and concerns of those in custodial settings in the public sphere.
Some of the PRP’s objectives include:
To get in touch with the Penal Reform Programme email Clare Ballard (Head of Programme) or call the LHR Cape Town office on 021 424 8561.
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.
The Land and Housing Programme assists in addressing historical property and land injustices of previously disadvantaged communities in South Africa, particularly women and their housing rights.
The programme also works to protect the rights of residential tenants, and to prevent unfair banking practices which may result in the loss of a home.
Our work involves the protection of both existing land rights, and tenure:
To get in touch with the Land and Housing Programme, send an email to Etta Marias (Programme Administrator) or call the Pretoria LHR office on 012 320 2943.
The programme has the following Units:
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:
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.
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.
The Gender Equality Programme uses a combination of strategic impact litigation, advocacy, and policy and law reform efforts. The programme serves women and girls, because they are disproportionately affected by sexual, domestic, and other violence. The programme also serves LGBTIQ+ communities who are often subject to violence and discrimination, because we understand that “gender” is diverse and non-binary.
We approach gender-based violence and discrimination from a systemic perspective, and take on cases, projects, and activities that:
The Gender Equality Programme is based in our Cape Town office, but works all over South Africa.
To get in touch with the Gender Equality Programme, email Sanja Bornman (Head of Programme) or call the Cape Town LHR office on 021 424 8561.