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South African Human Rights Commission

Cape Town and Johannesburg

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is a Constitutionally-mandated, independent national human rights institution, with offices in all nine provinces of South Africa. The mission of the SAHRC is to "promote respect for, observance of, and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favor." Among the SAHRC's wide ranging responsibilities are:

  • The investigation of individual complaints alleging constitutional rights violations.
  • The representation of individuals with meritorious claims.
  • Monitoring governmental agencies' compliance with constitutional provisions.
  • Creating educational programs designed to inform citizens of their constitutional rights.

There are two placements available: One at the Legal Services Programme and the other in the Research, Documentation, and Policy Analysis Programme.

Legal Services Programme
An extern placed with the LSP will primarily be engaged in providing assistance and support in the handling and investigating of complaints, legal research, and legal writing. In addition, there may be opportunities to join commissioners and staff in field work such as educating communities about their rights under the South African Constitution in collaboration with the SAHRC's Education and Training or Research Programmes, or the investigation of complaints and other issues of concern. Externs working with the Parliamentary Unit in Cape Town conduct research and analysis on legislative issues that impact human rights concerns.

Research, Documentation, and Policy Analysis Programme
An extern placed with this program will work out of the office in Johannesburg, and will be asked to provide assistance and general support to the activities of the Senior Researchers and Coordinators for the Programme. This may include:

General research of human rights, including foreign and international research.

Preparing background briefings and research for conferences and meetings, as well as attending such meetings.

Interaction with other programmes and assist in monitoring activities and programmatic support to the Legal Services Programme regarding specific complaints.

Compiling memos on relevant legislative tracking and human rights developments.

Specific Skills Students Will Employ
In addition to the skills utilized at all South Africa placements, this site will help students become more proficient in:

  • Case assessment and intake
  • Interviewing
  • Factual investigation
  • Counseling
  • Negotiation
  • Recognizing and resolving ethical dilemmas
  • Appellate litigation

For more information about the Human Rights Commission, please visit their website.