Centre's LLM alumnus elected by the African Union to continental children's rights body

Posted on July 29, 2010

Mezmur, an Ethiopian national, was nominated by his country to become part of the committee which consists of eleven members from different countries. The committee oversees the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Africa Children’s Charter) by different state parties. So far, 45 out of 53 AU member states have become party to this charter.

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights of the Child meets twice a year to observe the situation of children on the continent. It also promotes awareness about the charter and children’s rights issues in Africa. In particular, the committee studies reports by member states of the African Children’s Charter about the steps and measures they have taken to effectively implement the charter. The committee also considers petitions drafted by individuals from various member states regarding a violation of the charter by a state.

Benyam Dawit Mezmur holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the Addis Ababa University and completed his LLM on Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria. As the LLM programme (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa) requires a student to spend his or her second semester of the one-year programme at one of eight partner universities across the African continent, Mezmur spent his at the Community Law Centre at the University of Western Cape (UWC) – which is one of the eight partner institutions. After obtaining his LLM degree at the University of Pretoria, he continued with his doctorate (PhD) at UWC and completed it with a focus on the African Children’s Rights Charter. He dealt with issues pertaining to children’s rights such as child soldiers, children in conflict with the law, intercountry adoption. He has published on these issues in local and international journals.

The Director for the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, Prof Frans Viljoen has congratulated Mezmur, who is the Centre’s first graduate of the LLM programme to be elected to the continental human rights body. “His excellent and most appropriate academic background, vigorous enthusiasm and energy, maturity and objectivity will no doubt enable him to fulfil his duties competently, independently and even-handedly”, said Prof Viljoen.

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