Breakthroughs for UNDEF-funded rights litigation in Southern Africa

An UNDEF-funded project for using public interest litigation to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Southern Africa has yielded some significant developments in just one year. The initiative's implementers, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, recently litigated a case in Botswana on behalf of four elderly sisters challenging a discriminatory customary law practice prohibiting women from inheriting a family home. A landmark ruling from the Botswana High Court held that the customary law rule infringed the right to equality under the Botswana Constitution, thus allowing the sisters to continue living in their home and avoid eviction by male family members.

In Lesotho, the Centre is awaiting a ruling from the Constitutional Court after challenging customary law practice prohibiting women from inheriting to chieftainship. The Centre argued on behalf of the plaintiff that denying chieftainship on the grounds of gender alone violates constitutional rights to equality and freedom from discrimination.

The Centre aims to promote and advance human rights and the rule of law in southern Africa, primarily through strategic litigation support and capacity building. It provides support to local and regional lawyers and organizations in litigating human rights and rule of law cases in Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.