Side event: Housing and Land Rights ahead of South Africa’s UPR

The upcoming Universal Periodic Review of South Africa and the current Human Rights Council 51 st session should focus on the human rights to adequate housing and land rights and protection of their defenders

Organization organizing the event: Habitat International Coalition

Co-sponsoring organizations : Abahlali baseMjondolo, The African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, CIVICUS, The Human Rights Institute of South Africa, International Service for Human Rights, Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, West African Human Rights Defenders’ Network

Target audience: diplomats at the human rights council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN special procedure mandates, NGOs

Ahead of the UPR of South Africa, this important event explores the human rights situation in the South Africa, focusing on challenges to realize the human rights to adequate housing and land.

The speakers will address the heightened repression against Human Rights Defenders, in particular those working in the field of housing, spatial justice and equitable land distribution. With an introduction from Habitat International Coalition, the speaker from Abahlali baseMjondolo democratic grassroot movement will focus on the repression and targeted assassinations they have endured as advocates for the rights of people living in shacks, including access to decent housing, services and education. Since the beginning of 2022, four  movement leaders based in the eKhenana Commune have been murdered. 23 members of the movement (three women and 20 men) have been murdered throughout the country, with little justice being done for the crimes committed.

The representative of the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network will provide an overview of the legal system in place and the challenges to accessing justice.

Finally, the speaker from the Human Rights Institute of South Africa will contextualize the event within the discussion of these issues during previous UPR sessions, and articulate the need to address these pressing and fundamental issues at the upcoming UPR session.

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