After approval by the Rectorate, Senate, and Council of the University of the Free State (UFS), the Free State Centre for Human Rights (FSCHR) began operations on 1 January 2016.

Human rights remain the dominant ‘moral’ and ‘political’ language of our times. This demands multi-layered scholarly engagement because it influences relationships among nations and peoples and sets standards for political and democratic practice. In the midst of a turbulent global and national environment, new forms of rights and interpretations of rights are emerging. In South Africa, human rights provide the bridge between the past, the present, and the future. This has legal, social, political, cultural, and developmental implications.

The centre consists of three (3) interrelated divisions: a) Research and postgraduate; b) Advocacy and c) Legal services. The FSCHR as a whole, with its inter- and multi-disciplinary approach, will strengthen both the Academic and Human Projects of the UFS. A UFS Centre for Human Rights not only makes sound scholarly and practical sense, it also has limitless symbolic value. In 2016, the FSCHR has also been approved as a LEAD (flagship) project of the UFS. The location of one of the UFS’s campuses within the city of Bloemfontein (the judicial capital of South Africa) and with the National University of Lesotho on our doorstep, is historically and geographically significant. It has the potential to have a beneficial impact on the UFS, the City of Bloemfontein, the Mangaung Municipality, the Free State Province as a whole, and the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The urgent necessity for the establishment of the FSCHR was illustrated by the 2007/2008 incidence of racial discrimination at Reitz residence on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. As a result of the incidence, the UFS and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) came to an agreement to establish a centre for human rights on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus as a matter of priority. This agreement was then formalised by way of an Equality Court order.

Prof Leon Wessels, former member of the SAHRC (1999-2009), is currently acting as Director of the FSCHR.


Mrs Sophie Maasdorp
T: + 27 51 401 2451
F: + 27 51 401 3043


Equitas Building
UFS Bloemfontein Campus

Law photo for next to contact block