PRETORIA – The human rights body of the African Union, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, has appointed Professor Christof Heyns and some of his colleagues in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria to assist with a continent-wide comparative study on the laws related to the use of force by law enforcement officials in all African countries.


They are tasked with collecting all the applicable laws and collaborating with the Commission on a study of how this matter is dealt with in Africa in the context of the protection of the right to life and United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16. SDG 16 promotes peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels dealing with violence, justice and effective institutions.

Heyns and his colleagues have already been collecting the laws of every country in the world concerning the use of force by law enforcement officials, and they will draw on this collection and supplement it for the African Union study. Based on this work, during the next two years they will explore with the Working Group and other mechanisms of the Commission how to engage with African states on this matter.

Heyns is a member of the Commission’s Working Group on the Death Penalty, Extra-Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings and Enforced Disappearances in Africa, and has served as the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions. Together with the team of researchers in the Faculty’s Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa on the topic of 'Freedom from Violence', they helped draft the Commission’s General Comment on the Right to Life in 2015.

The University of Pretoria was recently ranked the top research institution on the African continent, and number 68 in the world, in terms of impact as far as SDG 16 is concerned.


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Prof Christof Heyns is the Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. For more information or interviews, contact Prof Heyns on email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..