Rhodes Law team in the top 3 in African Human Rights Moot Court

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Abigail and Aiden with one of the teams they were paired with leading to the Finals
Abigail and Aiden with one of the teams they were paired with leading to the Finals

The Faculty of Law team impressed at the finals of the 26th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition finals in Mauritius when they made it to the top three. Abigail Butcher and Aiden Whitaker enthralled an eminent bench of judges with a compelling presentation based on a hypothetical case on, ‘The rights to development and freedom of expression’.

The weeklong African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the largest gathering of top law students, academics and judges around the theme Human Rights in Africa.

“With over 100 participants made up of 45 Anglophone, 6 Francophone and 3 Lusophone teams, chances of getting through to the finals seemed very slim. The rule is that two universities from the same country are not allowed to be in the finals, so we ranked as the best South African university by qualifying for the finals," said Butcher.

Other South African universities that participated include Wits University, University of Johannesburg, University of the Free State and Stellenbosch University.

Abigail Butcher was ranked fourth best speaker out of the 90 English oralists with her partner Aiden Whitaker clinching the 10th spot.

“The language diversity was tricky, with translation and teams being mixed regardless of the language students spoke. We had French, Portuguese and Spanish. Being an English speaker did not mean there was an advantage at all,” said Whitaker.

Each university sends Faculty representatives who have worked in the field of human rights and whose role is to give guidance to the university team on the drafting of their argument and litigation skills. The representatives and other human rights law experts also serve as the panel of judges in the preliminary rounds of the tournament.

Professor Enyinna Nwauche and law lecturer, Phumelele Jabavu, led the Rhodes team.

The competition aims to breed a new generation of human rights lawyers in Africa and thus serve as a source of human rights education. It provides law students with the platform to develop their advocacy skills and to network and learn from other students across the continent.