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Combined Law & Human Rights Internships in South Africa

Project Overview
  • Placement location: Cape Town
  • Role: Legal representation of people unable to afford legal help and presenting workshops to them.
  • Requirements: None
  • Types of Placement: Projects Abroad Human Rights Office
  • Accommodation: Host family
  • Length of placement: From 2 weeks
  • Start dates: Flexible

Interning on a Law & Human Rights internship in South Africa with Projects Abroad is a way for you to gain worthwhile experience while making a tangible impact on communities and individuals in need. With its sad history of apartheid and colonialism, South Africa is an important place to get involved in campaigning for human rights and your placement will give you the opportunity to help those who do not have the resources to help themselves.

Our Law & Human Rights internships in South Africa are based in the bustling city of Cape Town. Although voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town maintains a noticeable disparity between rich and poor. A huge indicator of this can be seen when flying into Cape Town International Airport and viewing the housing situation below.

As a Law & Human Rights intern, you will work on meaningful projects alongside likeminded interns and passionate staff. Depending on your background, legal knowledge, and level of interest in specific areas, you will gain first-hand experience of human rights law in practice and gain knowledge about the legal system as well as learn about community involvement. Interns are given the chance to get involved at grass roots level, raising awareness about human rights to a variety of people throughout the Western Cape.

We have welcomed many interns, from high school and college students to graduates and professionals. The work is suitable to all who have a general interest in human rights and are willing to work hard and dedicate their time to improving the lives of others.

Interning at the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office in Cape Town

Interns are based at the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office, fondly known as PAHRO, which is located in the Wynberg area of Cape Town. Your precise role within the project will be determined by your background, legal knowledge, and level of interest in specific areas.

The Projects Abroad Human Rights Office offers free and independent legal advice to those who need it most and our clients come from a number of sources. Many people we work with are clients who come into our offices after hearing about our organization through word of mouth. Communities here are very close and word travels quickly about what we do and how we have helped others. We also conduct free legal clinics in disadvantaged communities for those who are unable to visit us in the office.

There are a variety of case topics we deal with, including domestic violence and matrimonial matters, labour law, housing matters, human rights violation referrals from the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), and possibly our biggest area - refugee rights. Immigrant and refugee rights have become a huge part of the work we do. Due to the instability of a number of countries within the region, South Africa has become a central assembly point for refugees.

You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our South Africa Human Rights Management Plan.

Volunteer Profile Former volunteer Emily Dennis shares her experience working on the Law & Human Rights project overseas
Emily Dennis
I never expected the incredible opportunities that I would have while working at the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office. I learned more in my month of interning then I ever could have imagined. It was the first time in my life where I felt like I was doing tangible work, and at the same time, I was actually touching the lives of people. Read more...

Our Mission at the Law & Human Rights Project in South Africa

The collective mission of the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office is to promote respect for human rights and human dignity by providing good quality, independent legal advice to the poor and vulnerable and also to participate in social justice.

In this regard we cover a broad spectrum of topics within our office. If you want to read more about the office and get an idea of the areas of work we cover, as well as details on the current projects, please visit the Projects Abroad Human Rights Office website.

Your Role as a Law & Human Rights Intern in South Africa

Intern on the Law & Human Rights Project in South Africa working in the office

For students who not yet entered university, your performance in the Social Services department of the project will dictate the level of involvement in any legal aspects of the work. Your legal experience will determine the level of legal work you will be involved in and some of the more important, complex legal work may be reserved for those who have legal experience.

Your placement will typically involve several elements. You might be producing information resources, such as research reports or consulting with clients, or handling case work and writing up legal opinions on these cases. At other times you might coordinate and run workshops in the community on specific human rights aspects. There is plenty for you to become involved with and you will definitely be kept busy.

Law & Human Rights interns should expect to work from 8.30am to 4.30pm from Monday to Thursday and then 8.30 to 1.00pm on Fridays. All interns need to show a good level of initiative; how much you get out of this experience is related to what you are prepared to put in. If you show initiative and get involved, ask questions, and make an impact on their supervisors, you will gain a great deal out of the experience.

Law students participate in a volunteer project meeting on Human Rights in South Africa

All interns need to be flexible, communicate well, and work hard as internships are demanding and must be taken seriously. You will be representing a professional organization and you may sometimes have deadlines to meet.

The Projects Abroad Human Rights Office closes over the Christmas and New Year period, from the 23 December – 2 January. This is due to the courts, Parliament, and our project partners being closed for the vacation.

Volunteers work on social justice issues in Cape Town, South Africa

While interns can join this project from 2 weeks or longer, we recommend that interns join us for as long as possible. Those interning for 2 to 4 weeks sometimes find that it is not long enough to get as involved as they would have wanted to. However, if you show initiative and fully commit yourself to your work then you are able to get a great amount out of whatever length of time you spend here.

All volunteers participating on standard projects in South Africa have the opportunity to spend one week on a Conservation & Environment project at the end of their main placement. For more information, please visit our African Bushveld Conservation & Environment Project in South Africa page. Our Combinations Page explains how you can combine not only projects, but also destinations.

If you have qualifications or experience in this field then we can make use of your skills volunteering abroad as a professional in South Africa. If you are a high school student and first-time traveller you may want to consider our High School Special programs in South Africa.

Monthly Reports South Africa Human Rights Management Plan

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