KATHLEEN AULD (BCom LLB UCT LLM UCT & University of Melbourne)
Thesis title: Sustainable development of small-scale fisheries and the need for strong measures to protect small-scale fisheries in international trade law.

Supervisor: Prof Loretta Feris

Contact details: aldkat003@myuct.ac.za

Description of research: Small-scale fishers depend for their livelihoods on resources that are fast depleting, and it is increasingly being recognised that fisheries managers must take into account the human element of fishing when deciding how best to manage fish stocks, for both ecological and development reasons. The international community has a number of agreements and voluntary codes regulating fishing capacity, illegal fishing and small-scale fisheries, and international trade agreements are also beginning to include provisions on fisheries. However, there is little mention of small-scale fisheries in those trade agreements that have been concluded, and those that are ongoing, such as the World Trade Organization negotiations, are fraught with disagreement and a focus on national interests, to the detriment of fish stocks and small-scale fishers. Kathleen’s research aims to find ways in which small-scale fisheries can be represented appropriately in international trade agreements, taking into account the need for development and poverty reduction, while simultaneously ensuring that sustainability of fish stocks is not compromised.

CHRISTINA BENINGER (BA Simon Fraser University JD University of Windsor LLM University of Essex)
Thesis Title: Towards Bridging the Gap in Women’s Access to Justice: Rule of Law Assistance and its Prospects for Combating Gender Based Violence

Supervisor: Prof Rashida Manjoo

Description of Research: There have been important developments in international human rights law to strengthen women's access to justice, and combat gender-based violence (GBV). Yet justice is often deeply gendered, and there is a tremendous gap between law and the reality that women often experience in their communities. Among the barriers to justice is the powerful impact of social norms that discriminate against women and perpetuate GBV. At the same time, 'rule of law' programming, focused on justice sector reform, has become a dominant international development approach worldwide, viewed as essential to strengthening access to justice, human rights and development. Yet, while academic scholarship on the rule of law is evolving, the link between rule of law and gender is sometimes challenged, and remains an understudied area. This study involves qualitative research in two country contexts to explore women's perceptions and experiences of justice, and how rule of law reform initiatives respond to these realities. This research links theory with practice to provide insights into the challenges and opportunities offered by rule of law programming, to help bridge the gap in women's access to justice in GBV cases. Christina’s research is supported by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

Thesis title: Understanding and responding to maritime trafficking off the East African Rim: do the measures against piracy of the Horn of Africa provide a model?

Supervisors: Prof Elrena van der Spuy and Adj Prof. Mark Shaw

Contact details: carinabruwer@gmail.com

Description of research: Carina’s research looks at transnational organized crime at sea and explores responses to ivory and heroin trafficking to and from Eastern Africa and the Swahili coast.  Potential responses are considered by drawing from the international counter-piracy response to Somali piracy. Africa is increasingly becoming a major role player in illicit organized criminal activities undertaken to supply demand in other world regions. This is having an increasingly adverse impact on security, governance and development in the implicated regions. To counter this, there needs to be a concerted international effort pooling together resources, expertise and political will of both public and private stakeholders. The highly effective international response to Somali piracy provides valuable insights into such a multi-stakeholder approach a transnational threat at sea. This inter-disciplinary research project explores the subjects of criminality, governance, development, state failure, law and law enforcement and is informed by interviews and participant observation, undertaken in East Africa and elsewhere, in order to compliment the secondary data.
Thesis title: Resolving Conflicts Around Nomadic Pastoralism and Environmental Resource Management in Nigeria: A Legal Survey.

Supervisors: Emer.Prof Jan Glazewski and Prof Loretta Feris

Contact details: ezirigwejane@gmail.com

Description of research: Jane’s doctoral research seeks to examine the environmental and other related factors that trigger the increased migration by Fulani nomads from the north to the southern part of Nigeria along with the effects of such migration on the environment and the economy of Nigeria. The research adopts a combination of doctrinal and empirical research. Its aim is to propose ways to reconcile the traditional right to nomadic pastoralism, land ownership rights and the anti-open grazing laws as well as protect the environment in the efforts to regulate nomadic pastoralism in Nigeria.

Thesis title: The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Refugees: The Case of South Africa and Kenya

Supervisor: Prof. Rashida Manjoo

Contact details: mknviv001@myuct.ac.za

Bio: Vivian holds an LLM, with a specialisation in Refugee and Asylum Law, from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She has over fifteen years experience in the human rights field and has worked in various capacities for the South African Human Rights Commission and international organisations including the UNHCR and the UNICEF.

Description of research: Vivian’s research explores the role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in refugee protection. This is premised on the limited availability of evidence on NHRIs and the promotion and protection of refugee rights. Further that where analysis on domestic refugee regimes exists, hardly any reference is made to NHRIs as components of an effective implementation regime. The thesis argues that independent NHRIs with the requisite expertise can play a crucial role in safeguarding and expanding legal protection for refugees. Further, that where a normative gap exists within the refugee protection regime, NHRIs can play an important role in filling that gap. The specific objectives include identifying the normative gaps in international and regional refugee law in order to highlight NHRIs’ role in addressing the protection issues related to refugees in Africa and the extent to which NHRIs protect the rights of refugees. The research focuses on NHRIs in Kenya and South Africa and utilises secondary and primary data (qualitative interviews with refugees and other key informants).   

TINYADE KACHIKA (LLB(Hons) University of Malawi  LLM in International Legal Studies (with Distinction) Georgetown
Thesis title: A critical study of community bylaws as a means of eliminating harmful practices affecting women and girls in Malawi

Supervisors: Prof Danwood Chirwa & Prof Dee Smythe

Contact details: tkachika@hotmail.com

Description of research: Tinyade’s thesis is exploring the potential of community bylaws as a means of eliminating harmful practices affecting women and girls in Malawi considering that these bylaws are sprouting in rural communities across Malawi, and yet they are not anchored in ‘formal law.’ Using the norm diffusion conceptual framework, the research is seeking to explain the factors that are influencing the use of community bylaws to ensure the protection of the right of women to be free from harmful practices. By understanding how harmful practices are being conceptualised in the community bylaws, the research is going to establish whether or not such understanding is consistent with domestic and international human rights law norms. In this project, the thesis will establish whether or not the community bylaws can be defended as a sincere form of norm internalisation of women’s human rights and will test if the community bylaws phenomenon is revealing other facets of norm internalisation that are at play when the action ground is a rural setting. Furthermore, the thesis is seeking to establish the legal validity of the community bylaws by interrogating the relationship between the bylaws and African customary law within the broader context of legal pluralism.

Thesis title: The realization of the right to health by weak health systems and the role of the judiciary for accountability; Nigeria as a case study

Name of Supervisor: Prof Dee Smythe

Contact details: ookolawole@gmail.com

Description of research:  Omowamiwa’s thesis examines the obligation to fulfill the right to health in low- and Middle-income countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. The thesis focuses on States where there is no express constitutional provision for the right to health and there is limited normative clarity on its content. The focus is especially due to these States’ limited capacity to realize the right due to limited resources in the face of competing interests.  Using Nigeria as a case study of States with this phenomenon, he examines specifically, the obligation to fulfill, by providing health care as a key element of the broader right to health. Incorporating human rights research with health systems research, he looks at the six pillars of the health system and how they may be strengthened through the normalization of right to health law even in the face of claims of non-justiciability of socioeconomic rights. The thesis interrogates how normative clarity on the right to health care can help broad based health system strengthening and reform to make the health system better able to fulfill its duties to the populace. He explores how the judiciary may then hold the health system accountable as an agent of the State to its duties bearing in mind the principle of progressive realization and its implications for resource allocation. 

Thesis title: South African criminology’s aetiological crisis: reflections on a century of murder

Supervisors: Adj Prof. Mark Shaw and Prof Elrena van der Spuy

Contact details:
Email: KRGANI001@myuct.ac.za
Twitter: @Anine_Kriegler

Description of research: Anine's primary areas of research interest are crime statistics and drug policy. Her dissertation investigates South African crime statistics over the last century. It speaks to debates on the causes of crime, especially in South Africa, on the relationship between social theory and empirical data, and on the value of criminological statistics, with a particular focus on the incidence of murder.

TABETH MASENGU (LLB Rhodes LLM London School of Economics and Political Science)
Thesis title: The Judicial Appointment Process and Gender in The Judiciary: The Case of South Africa and Zambia.

Supervisors: Prof Hugh Corder (UCT) and Prof. Eva Brems (Ghent University)

Contact details: tabeth.masengu@uct.ac.za

Description of research: This research aims to fill the gap in existing literature on Gender and Judging, by providing case studies from an African Perspective.  Using South Africa and Zambia, the research examines the judicial appointment process in regard to women specifically. How does the judicial appointment processes in these two countries enable women to ascend to the bench and are there factors that limit women’s judicial aspirations? Using empirical data and existing literature, the thesis examines the structure and context of the two jurisdictions, the judicial appointment bodies, the role of the judge and how this affects women, the legal profession and other relevant factors.  The research compares relevant literature from other studies in the West and draws out aspects that are common and uncommon in the two jurisdictions. At a practical level, the research aims to provide useful recommendations that would influence policies seeking to improve the representation of women on Superior Court benches.

Thesis title: Human Rights, Modernity and Culture: Does the current human rights framework and discourse include traditional African practices such as lobola as a form of violence against women?

Supervisor: Prof Rashida Manjoo

Contact details: MBWPRE001@myuct.ac.za

Description of research: Over the past few years, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in its comments to Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe advised these states to take positive steps to eliminate the practice of lobola as it was a practice that disproportionately affected women by arguing that it should be recognized as a harmful traditional and cultural practice. However, in the same period, the Committee’s comments to other state parties such as South Africa, where the same cultural practice is observed, did not get the same comment. A few questions arise from this lack of standard application of what consists of a harmful traditional cultural practice in one state and not the other? It is from this stand point that the research seeks to investigate the practice on the ground, whether women and men who practice it view it as such and thereby qualifying whether this practice should be called a form of violence against women? If it is, why are we not calling it as such across all cultures? More generally, this research discusses broadly the extent to which the current human rights discourse is influenced by the idea of progress and modernity, by examining whether it is an intrinsically western discourse that has space for the practice of some customs, in this case, lobola.  The research also discusses the extent to which this right to culture can be reconciled with a woman’s right to be free from violence, particularly looking at the practice of lobola.


Thesis title: Whether and How South Africa’s Adversarial Criminal Justice System Can Accommodate a Sexual Offence Complainant’s Right or Interest to Participate in the Criminal Process

Supervisor: Prof Dee Smythe

Contact details: Jameelah.omar@uct.ac.za

Description of research: This research explores whether the criminal procedure mechanisms that target sexual offence complainants are limited to mitigating harm to complainants, that is, mechanisms aimed at preventing secondary victimisation, rather than participatory mechanisms. A fuller understanding of what is meant by participatory rights allows for a proper understanding of whether South Africa’s adversarial system must evolve to accommodate these rights. Because the adversarial system precludes the participation of any third party, the question of complainant participation has not been adequately addressed, with most South African commentators purporting to speak to complainant participation, but actually speaking to protective mechanisms.

Thesis title: Towards Conceptualizing a Witness Protection Framework in Nigeria.

Supervisors:  Prof Elrena van der Spuy and A/Prof Hannah Woolaver

Contact details: ofnsuz001@myuct.ac.za, suzansuzzie@yahoo.com or  suzzie.oyakhire@uniben.edu

Description of research: Suzzie’s research seeks to investigate how Nigeria can engage in global discourse and practices on witness protection to develop a framework best suited for it in reforming its criminal justice system. Nigeria has no established framework for protecting witnesses. Preliminary desk review reveals that there are semblances of witness protection captured within the text of several legislative provisions in Nigeria. This has created a system of ad hoc practices in witness protection in Nigeria. Also there is paucity of empirical research on witness protection within the Nigerian context. It is therefore expected that the proposed research fills the existing gap in knowledge about the modalities of witness protection in Nigeria. The research adopts a combination of doctrinal and empirical research. The empirical component adopts a qualitative methodology comprising semi structures interviews of key individuals in Nigeria.

Thesis title: “Land Acquisition and Compensation in the Petroleum Communities in Tanzania: Resource Conflicts Mitigating Approach.”

Supervisor: Prof Danwood Chirwa

Contact details: aloysrugazia@gmail.com

Description of research: The motivation behind Aloys study is a phenomenon quite trite in most of African peace and security or economic and political literature in general, which confirms that petroleum exploitation in Africa, is the cause of major civil wars fought in the continent. This phenomenon has been dubbed ‘resource curse syndrome’ with some economic and political scholars such as Paul Collier and Stilgiz. Some skeptical views have gone far to argue that Africa either trundles with the rhythms of violence or appears perpetually bound to violence. The point of departure in this study is that human rights methods can be used to avoid conflicts in the petroleum communities in Africa. The study uses Tanzania as a case study.


Thesis title: An analysis of the regulatory environment governing electronic evidence in South Africa: Suggestions for reform

Supervisors: Prof PJ Schwikkard and Prof Caroline Ncube

Contact details: swalesl@ukzn.ac.za

Description of research: Technology has developed rapidly over the last three decades.  Over the last decade in particular, information is regularly transmitted and stored electronically – and only electronically.  As a result, Lee Swales’ thesis focuses on the regulation of electronic evidence in South Africa.  It examines hearsay electronic evidence; whether a presumption of regularity exists in South Africa; whether admissibility and weight of electronic evidence is appropriately regulated; and considers the South African Law Reform Commission’s (‘SALRC’) selected option for law reform.  In response to society’s reliance on technology, and evolving communication norms, the SALRC has suggested three different methodologies for law reform in relation to electronic evidence and recommends the most aggressive of these options in the form of a Law of Evidence Bill. In this thesis, Lee agrees with many of the findings made by the SALRC but disagrees with the option recommended for law reform. As suggested by several other stakeholders, rather than a drastic overhaul of the current legal framework, the thesis proposes a more cautious amendment of existing legislation.

PAUL TURAY (LL.B. Hons FBC; MA Coventry University)

Thesis title: Prolonged and Arbitrary Arrest and Detention: An Access to Justice Dilemma for South Sudan

Supervisor: Prof PJ Schwikkard

Contact details: trypau002@myuct.ac.za

Description of research: Paul’s research examines how Prolonged and Arbitrary Arrest and Detention (PAD) has become a justice and human rights challenge for South Sudan. The research builds on existing theoretical knowledge, regional and international legal framework and case law as well as drawing on lessons learned, and best practices drawn from different context and increases awareness on PAD as a specific justice and human rights concern of South Sudan. The research explores how a limitation in the awareness and the application of human rights; the limited geographic coverage and dysfunctional judicial and law enforcement institutions, and; an insufficiency of required logistics for the provision of justice services is perpetuating PAD in South Sudan and rendering it an inevitable consequence of justice service delivery in South Sudan. As South Sudan contends with the challenges of nationhood, this research shall provide a critical understanding of the status of the criminal justice sector in South Sudan and makes recommendations on how the identified challenges and limitations could be addressed in preventing PAD and making the justice system work for all South Sudanese.