The School of Law recently hosted the revival and relaunch of the UKZN Chapter of Amnesty International South Africa.

The student-led UKZN Chapter, anchored by the Law School in association with the Durban Chapter of Amnesty International South Africa, will work to participate in global and local campaigns of the organisation. This will involve co-ordinating and enabling student members and volunteers to connect with local social justice issues and human rights campaigns.

Said Law academic and Project Co-ordinator Ms Janine Hicks: ‘I teach Street Law and Gender and the Law, our fourth-year students identified the need to be more exposed to social justice issues and engage in outreach work as part of their Law degree. This platform will enable our students to use their legal training as a tool to challenge the injustices and inequalities that people face daily, and hopefully encourage them to pursue a career in the human rights sector.’

The Director of Durban’s LGBTI Community and Health Centre, Law graduate Ms Nonhlahla Mkhize, encouraged students to use their voices and resources to bring change in the spaces they occupy.

‘In 1996, I signed up to be part of the Amnesty International Chapter on this campus and chose to be a defender for human rights,’ said Mkhize. ‘Not everyone gets into this cause because as an activist you are not only defending the rights of others but you also have to worry about your safety because you make a lot of enemies. The Chapter provides a space to make a change and help society, so we need more volunteers,’ she said.

Amnesty International’s South African Membership and Growth Officer Ms Nthabeleng Mzizi said it was important for the youth to contribute to defending human rights.

‘The youth are the ones who have the ideas and the energy to carry on the good fight for human rights. We want to hear their experiences about human rights defence and look forward to being part of the various campaigns and programmes they come up with,’ she said.

Students for Law and Social Justice Chairperson Ms Arlina Ramothar said it was important for students to be involved in community outreach. ‘SLSJ has formed an outreach subcommittee and students will be going out to the community and educating people about their rights,’ said Ramothar.

As part of the relaunch, students and staff signed up to join the Chapter as volunteers and partners for its upcoming local social justice and human rights campaigns. A committee of students volunteered to map out the next steps in formulating the UKZN Chapter, which will be officially launched campus-wide on 16 May at an event where former judge, Mr Albie Sachs, will speak.

Details of Amnesty’s various campaigns and programmes can be found at https://www.amnesty.org/en/

Words: Thandiwe Jumo