Human Rights Commission
What are human rights?Human rights are the basic rights that everyone has, simply because they are human. The list of human rights protected in South Africa is contained in the Bill of Rights, Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution, the highest law in our country.
What are human rights violations?If someone ignores or abuses your rights, it is called a violation of those rights. For example, if someone treats a person differently because of his or her race, gender, age or ethnic group, that person's right to equality is being abused or violated.
What does the Commission do?In accordance with the Constitution and the Human Rights Commission Act of 1994, the tasks of the Human Rights Commission are to:
- Develop an awareness of human rights among the people of South Africa.
- Make recommendations to the state to improve the carrying out of human rights.
- Undertake studies and report to Parliament on matters relating to human rights.
- Investigate complaints of violations of human rights and seek appropriate relief.
- Website: www.sahrc.org.za
What does the Commission investigate?The Commission investigates alleged violations of or threats to a fundamental right. It can do this on its own accord, or in response to a complaint laid by the public.
What won't the Commission investigate?The Commission has no jurisdiction to deal with complaints regarding to events that happened before 27 April 1994. It also does not investigate:
- Complaints based solely on hearsay, rumour or media reports; or one that is viewed to be frivolous, misconceived or incomprehensible.
- An anonymous complaint.
- A complaint that is subject of a dispute before a court.
- Complaints that are lodged more than three years after the alleged violation occurred.
Complaining to the CommissionYou must lodge the complaint in the province where the alleged violation took place. You can do so personally or on behalf of another person or group, and you may request confidentiality. Once your complaint has been accepted, an investigator will be appointed within seven days and you'll be contacted to confirm details.
- Download the SAHRC's guide to the complaints procedure
The Commission's structureThe Human Rights Commission is made up of the commission, which sets out policy, and a secretariat, which implements policy. The chairperson is overall head, and there are up to 10 other commissioners, each responsible for a particular aspect of human rights - children, disability, civil rights, etc - as well as for a South African region. Commissioners are appointed by Parliament on a seven-year term, and can be reappointed for an additional term.
- The Commission has set up offices in all nine provinces to ensure that its services are widely accessible. See its complaints page for full contact details of its provincial offices.
- Website: www.sahrc.org.za
- On Twitter: @SAHRCommission
- On Facebook: www.facebook.com/sahumanrightscommission
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What can the HRC do for you?
The Commission can give you information or training on human rights, and can help you if you think that any of your rights, as defined in the Bill of Rights, has been violated. The Commission, however, does not deal with all types of rights violations. See more about the different rights categories and organisations in You & your rights.
CONTACT THE COMMISSIONEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org