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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity


Since its establishment by Constitutional Mandate, the South African Human Rights Commission has dedicated itself to:
  • Raising awareness of human rights issues;
  • Monitoring and assessing the observance of human rights;
  • Education and training on human rights;
  • Addressing human rights violations and seeking effective redress.
The Commission fulfills the objectives stated above through the following core operational programmes:
  • Legal Services Programme
  • The Research and Documentation Programme
  • Advocacy and Communications
  • Parliamentary and International Affairs
In addition to the above, the following corporate programmes support the work of the Commission:
  • Financial Management Programme
  • Administration and Supply Chain Management Programme
  • Human Resources Programme
  • Internal Audit Activity

Legal Services Unit (LSU)

The Legal Services Unit (LSU) is responsible for providing quality legal services for the protection of human rights in South Africa. The LSU endeavours to discharge the protection mandate of the Commission through the efficient and effective investigation of complaints of human rights violations, the provision of quality legal advice and assistance, as well as seeking redress through the courts for victims of human rights violations. The LSU seeks to foster an understanding and respect for human rights by addressing human rights violations or threats of a violation, which includes making appropriate findings and recommendations to stakeholders.
The investigation of complaints involves conducting public inquiries, issuing of subpoenas and in loco inspections where necessary.  Recourse to litigation occurs in instances where negotiations and mediation have failed, or did not produce the required results.  The detailed procedure for lodging complaints may be found on the Commission’s website.  The procedure followed in handling complaints is contained in the complaints handling manual.

A Trends Analysis Report is also produced on an annual basis so as to substantively analyse complaints received by the Commission for the relevant financial year under review.  It aims to not only provide statistical information regarding the number of complaints received, referred and finalised by the Commission, but to further provide a narrative analysis with a view to  informing both Parliament and the general public about the initiatives undertaken by the Commission in addressing such complaints.   

Areas of Focus

  • Complaints handling
  • Public hearings
  • Mediations
  • Litigation
  • Annual Trends Analysis Report
  • Finalisation rate for cases over 85%
  • Hosted Public Hearings on various topics including:
  • Land Restitution
  • Access to Housing. Local Governance and Service Delivery
  • Access to Emergency Medical Services in the Eastern Cape
  • Issues and Challenges relating to unregulated artisanal underground and above ground mining activities in South Africa
  • Safety and Security Challenges in Farming Communities
  • Strategic Impact Litigation in such matters as:
  • SAHRC & Another v Minister of Home Affairs and 5 Others
  • BEFA & 23 Others v Minister of Basic Education & 4 others
  • Stellenbosch University Legal Aid Clinic & Others v Minister of Justice & Others
  • Annual Trends Analysis Reports produced for the 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years



Please note that as of  1 July 2021 and in terms of the Promulgation by the President of the Republic, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has handed over its PAIA functions to the office of the Information Regulator in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2000 (PAIA) as amended by the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPIA).

Kindly upload the section 51 reports to you websites and keep hard copies at your premises. The SAHRC will NOT  be accepting or acknowledging any compliance reports.

All POPIA/PAIA enquiries, compliance matters and registration of Information officers, new PAIA POPI/PAIA complaints and data breaches must directed  to the office of the Information Regulator. Below is their email address.
SAHRC Section 14 Manual English version SAHRC Section 32 Report 2020-2021
Section 32 Template Form A- Requesting information from Public body
Form C – Requesting information from Private Body Form B- Appeal Form
UNDERSTANDING PAIA Lodging a PAIA request with the SAHRC
Areas of Focus
  • Monitoring and reporting on compliance with PAIA
  • Awareness raising and education for users and implementers of PAIA
  • Providing assistance to members of the public
  • Making recommendations on the reform of PAIA
  • Establishment and hosting of the National Information Officers Forum
  • Establishment of Provincial Information Officers Forum in various provinces

Contact details
Deputy Information Officer

Research Unit

The Research Unit (RU) is tasked mainly with discharging the monitoring mandate of the SAHRC. The RU conducts investigations on pertinent human rights issues through various means, including interviews and desktop studies, and then drafts reports that include findings from these studies. Recommendations to offer remedy in the case of human rights violations, are also provided.
The Research Unit (RU) engages extensively with external stakeholders, such as government departments, civil society organisations, academia and community-based organisations, to offer advice and expertise, and to benefit from research that these organisations and individuals undertake. Staff from the RU sit on various committees and expert panels relating to their respective fields of interest and focus. The RU also offers support to other units within the SAHRC such as Legal, Advocacy and the Commissioners programme.

Areas of Focus
The RU is divided into four sub-units. These Units are:
  • Civil and Political Rights sub-unit:  Documents and reports on the status of civil and political rights in South Africa. The activities of this sub-unit is premised on the belief that promotion and protection of civil and political rights allows individuals to participate freely in activities of society including the right to vote, gather, the right to free speech and freedom of association. It also protects individuals through the right to security and self-defence.
  • Economic and Social Rights sub-unit: Monitors, documents and reports on the status of socio-economic rights in South Africa. These rights include an adequate standard of living, the right to water, sanitation, food, health, adequate housing, social security, basic education and a healthy environment. This sub-unit gives expression and content to the Commission’s mandate enshrined in section 184(3) of the constitution, which compels the SAHRC to monitor steps that the state is taking to realise the above rights.
  • Equality Unit: the right to equality prohibits discrimination against one or more persons by the state, private sector or other individuals based on such factors like race, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability. This sub-unit annually published an Equality Report, which provides an update of the status of these rights in the Republic.
  • Parliamentary and International Affairs Unit: deals with the monitoring of bills and legislative amendments that pass through Parliament and ensures that the SAHRC makes input in to those bills and amendments that relate to human rights. The sub-unit also monitors international developments in relation to human rights such as submissions to the general assembly, articles in relation to covenants and the submission of country reports and shadow reports.

  • Publication of numerous S184 (3) reports and subsequent tabling in Parliament.
  • The publication of annual Equality Reports.
  • Various submissions on bills and legislation at Parliament and presentations thereof.
  • Publication of thematic focus area reports such as the SAHRC's report on the Right to Access Sufficient Water and Decent Sanitation Representations at UN meetings Publications and presentations at conferences, nationally and internationally.

Advocacy and Communications

The Advocacy and Communications unit plays a strategic central role in strengthening the Commission’s promotion mandate. Both advocacy and communications are a common thread that runs throughout the work of the various units within the Commission.
The unit seeks to create a balanced and integrated approach of the three core aspects of the Commission’s mandate for expanded visibility and impact on the Commission’s work. As rights are inter-linked and inter-dependant, this unit’s promotion work complements both the protection and monitoring of human rights aspects so that the three core mandates are reinforced.

The Advocacy sub unit mainly works towards the promotion of human rights to create awareness, deepen understanding of human rights and ensuring attainment of a culture of human rights. This is achieved through various advocacy methodologies, which include training workshops, seminars, roundtable discussions, conferences, public campaigns, presentations, media interventions, community outreach, publications and information dissemination.  These activities have been classified under the broad term of advocacy, outreach and human rights education.

The bulk of implementation of advocacy work is mainly carried out through the Commission’s provincial offices, with the unit at Head Office being mainly responsible for events of a national character and also supporting, coordinating and overseeing those activities that relate to advocacy within the provinces. Recent notable achievements for the sub-unit include key outputs such as human rights clinics as a model for outreach to rural and marginalized communities; broad based stakeholder engagements on key topical issues on relating to equality and socio-economic rights; the commemoration of human rights calendar days through public events throughout the year which culminate in a wide range of events to mark Human Rights Month in March of each year and the development and production of promotional and supportive material to accompany the unit’s advocacy activities.

The Communications sub unit’s work reinforces its supportive role to advocacy, by carrying out external and internal communications processes and protocols; communicating the SAHRC’s national priorities and objectives of protecting, promoting and monitoring human rights in South Africa and assisting in developing a positive image of the SAHRC to its stakeholders, as the institution seeks to transform society, secure rights, and restore dignity. Communications work is mostly carried out at Head Office and Provincial Offices also undertake provincial media interventions, as coordinated by Communications unit at the head office.

Parliamentary and International Affairs Unit

The Parliamentary and International Affairs Unit is situated within the SAHRC’s Research Programme. It serves as the institution’s focal point for parliamentary, international and regional human rights engagement and conducts research, drafts submissions and engages in various advocacy activities in order to carry out the Commission’s constitutional mandate.

The unit actively engages with parliamentary processes to ensure that South Africa’s legislative framework promotes and protects human rights in terms of the Constitution and relevant international and regional human rights obligations, norms and standards.

The unit also ensures that the SAHRC is visible as a national human rights institution (NHRI) at the international and regional level and monitors, reports and raises awareness about South Africa’s compliance with its international and regional human rights obligations.

Areas of Focus
·       Legislative analysis and drafting of submissions.
·       Analysis of South Africa’s compliance with its international and regional human obligations.
·       Drafting of NHRI reports to international and regional human rights bodies.
·       Providing advice and opinions on cases, findings, court judgements etc. from a legislative and international perspective.
·       Comparative research
·       Commenting on draft legislation to strengthen human rights in South Africa.
·       Participating in public participation processes and advocacy initiatives related to law reform.
·       Liaising with parliamentary committees and ensuring the submission of SAHRC reports and key findings which could be used as a basis to enhance parliamentary oversight.
·       Promoting the ratification of international and regional human rights instruments and advocating for these instruments to be implemented at the domestic level.
·       Publication of the SAHRC’s Annual International and Regional Human Rights Report.
·       Preparation of SAHRC report to the UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review Mechanism.
·       Drafting of the SAHRC’s NHRI Report to the UN treaty bodies and African regional structures.
·       Monitoring the government’s implementation of recommendations issued by these bodies.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

27 Stiements Street, Braamfontein

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