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CALS and Right2Protest Project host Anti-Repression Week

- Thuli Zulu

CALS and the Right2Protest Projecy (R2P) will host the first-ever anti-repression week from 4 – 7 December 2023

This event will highlight the violence and hostility experienced by human rights defenders and journalists who speak up on matters of public interest. It will also identify and present remedies to the increasing repression of activists and the tactics that seek to stifle their rights to freedom of expression and to protest.

In recent years, threats and attacks on human rights defenders and journalists speaking out on matters of public interest have increased dramatically. Activists from all over the world have had to endure the onslaught of repression tactics that aim to silence their voices. They experience death threats, physical violence, harassment, stalking, unlawful detention, surveillance, tracking, frivolous lawsuits and unlawful detention and arrests. Similarly, across Africa, we have observed a number of laws and practices that are repressive. South Africa is no exception.

CALS and R2P, in an effort to counter shrinking civic space, have canvassed the experiences of activists through their reports. The second edition of Victimisation Experiences of Activists in South Africa, released earlier this year, introduced innovative strategies that activists can use to counter attacks. However, more protections and safeguards are required to shelter activists from the current hostile environment. Being a human rights defender has become a dangerous activity. The repression that activists face has increased in intensity and strength. There is then an urgent need to respond to this hostility.

Next week, CALS and R2P present the first-ever Anti-Repression week in South Africa. This weeklong affair aims to assemble activists and other relevant stakeholders to inquire into the current climate within which human rights defenders find themselves. It also intends to present various strategies and launch tools that will aid in addressing the repression of activists and the limitations of their right to protest and freedom of expression.

The week will run from 4 – 7 December 2023 at various locations in and around Wits University. An online announcement and social media campaign will kick off on the week of 4 December 2023. 5 December 2023 will see the introduction of CALS’ Anti-SLAPP Model Law. This legislation advocates for the protection of activists from frivolous legal proceedings that have no merit. These legal proceedings’ purpose are to silence, intimidate and punish those who are speaking out on matters of public interest. On 6 December 2023, there will be roundtable discussion on the July 2021 riots and the way in which this relates to the food crisis.

To end the week, various events will be held on Thursday.  7 December 2023 will be dedicated to panel discussions on the tools available to Environmental and Gender Justice Activists and an exhibition on Business Human Rights. These will be accompanied by the launch of the Activist Toolkit and the State of Protest Report.

For inquiries, please contact:

From the Centre for Applied Legal Studies:

From the Right2Protest Project: