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We prioritise responding to human rights violations based on sexuality, broadly, and sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE), specifically. Through this work, we support litigation efforts to develop jurisprudence and hold states and non-state actors accountable for SOGIE-based human rights violations.
ISLA places great importance on the incremental approach to strategic litigation. In order to bring about broader social change, our strategy focuses on responding to everyday SOGIE-based violations. The objective is to eliminate SOGIE-based violations by protecting the human rights of LGBTQI people through the use of courts. The focus of the work is on identifying and naming human rights concerns that are amenable to strategic litigation in different contexts and responding to the challenges as identified by the local actors. This unit works closely with the Sexual Rights Litigation Network which creates conditions for strategic litigation to take place. Through this method, we hope that the different cases will reveal the different ways in which human rights are violated, and reiterate the universality and indivisibility of human rights, which in turn will ensure that the human rights of LGBTQI people are recognised. In particular, we aim to promote the articulation of progressive standards and the development of jurisprudence before domestic courts and the African regional human rights system.
Specific issues that fall under our attention in the Sexual Rights Programme include:
- Freedom from violence, and the obligation to act with due diligence (holding states accountable for failure to protect persons from violence, including failure to investigate, prosecute and punish acts of violence by state and non-state actors)
- Protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
- Freedom and security of persons (arbitrary detention and police harassment)
- Freedom from discrimination
- Protecting freedom of association and assembly
- The right to privacy
- The right to health
Founded in 2014, the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA) is a Pan-African and feminist initiative with a timely remit: to strengthen strategic human rights litigation across the African continent. Essentially, we aim to change the way that strategic litigation is used so as to enable broader access to justice and to support those who seek to hold states accountable for violations of women’s human rights and sexual rights.