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Advocacy and Human Rights Internship in Cape Town, South Africa


Functie omschrijving

During this internship, you will be working on the Advocacy Program that offers legal advice and practical assistance with a special focus on vulnerable individuals, with the aim to ensure that their rights are respected. While the program takes on any kind of issues related to discrimination due to someone’s nationality, the program has a particular focus on the needs and protection of persons affected by xenophobic violence, disabled refugees, and protection of unaccompanied refugee and migrant children. In addition to assisting individuals, the program also conducts ‘higher level’ advocacy with the aim to change legislation and ensure the implementation of existing laws and procedures. You will assist in the following areas:

  • Documentation: Information and referrals regarding asylum application process, expired documentation/permits, appeal process, repatriation
  • Hate Crimes/Xenophobic Incidents: interview to document details and follow up of individual cases where needed (contact police stations, South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), counseling, etc.)
  • Children’s Project: Research (compiling research on policies and practices relevant to unaccompanied and separated minors in South Africa and on a comparative level). Casework ( assisting the Advocacy Officer in advising clients with regards to unaccompanied and separated minors, upkeep of Children’s Project database, assistance with translation if applicable, with the guidance of the Advocacy Officer). Individual assistance (making referrals and sometimes accompanying clients to services, with the guidance of the Advocacy Officer)
  • Research: South African government legislation and refugee issues in Africa

What you’ll do

  • Paralegal advice to clients who attend the walk-in advocacy clinic (after you have been trained and have shadowed a staff member on on advising clients). Think off advice on documentation, asylum system access, appeal processes, hate crimes and xenophobic incidents, referrals to other organisations, among other topics
  • Research: this may include assistance in compiling submissions, internal research required, or other research on topics that interest you (and suit the program) as well as compile a weekly press review on refugee and migration related news items
  • Administrative assistance and support as well as assistance with the upkeep of records and databases
  • Participation in stakeholder forums and workshops that are of interest or relevance
  • Assistance with other tasks that are necessary for the daily business of the organization

In general, your tasks will also strongly depend on your previous knowledge, skills, and personal interests. If possible, the organization will try to create a small project that you will be able to lead. The type of project will depend on other projects that are running at the moment and on the current political situation. An example could be a research-oriented project that involves creating a survey, conducting interviews and compiling the collective data.

Functie eisen


  • Academic background in a related area such as Political Sciences, Human Rights, Law, etc.
  • Previous practical experience in working with refugees/migrants
  • Knowledge of refugee law and/or migrant issues
  • Pro-active engagement and willingness to get involved in the organization’s various activities
  • Good communication and administrative skills
  • Fluent English skills are necessary. Knowledge of French, Swahili, Lingala, Somali, Arabic or
    Portuguese is an advantage
  • You should be highly motivated to learn about issues related to refugees and migration in
    South Africa and be an independent worker capable of doing their own research
  • Practical, organized and motivated, with a strong ethical motivation
  • Preferably available for 6 months

This organization also offers internships in Communications, English School, Female empowerment, Empowerment of Refugees or a 3-month all-round position.


This internship is based on a volunteer work placement, which means you won't receive a stipend or free accommodation.


This organization started in Cape Town in 1994 as religious assistance to different communities of migrants but soon expanded to offering more tangible assistance as they were confronted with the problems experienced by refugees from Angola, the Congos, Rwanda, Burundi and other African communities. In 2003 a secular non-government organization was started to run these projects, the Scalabrini Center of Cape Town (SCCT).

Migration is perceived as an opportunity by this organization, so they are on a mission to alleviate poverty and promoting development in the Western Cape while fostering cultural, social and economic integration between migrants, refugees, and South Africans. In providing their assistance they advocate respect for human rights and use a holistic approach that considers all basic needs.

Every month around 2000 people visit the center, which offers service through six main programme areas:

  • Advocacy: Protecting, promoting and advancing the rights and freedoms of migrants and refugees by providing paralegal advice and practical assistance to individuals on a walk-in basis. In addition, this team works on driving deeper systemic change in the South African society and immigration and asylum systems.
  • English School: Providing a specialized English language school for refugees and migrants.
  • Employment Access: Providing a gateway to employment by providing support to foreign nationals who are legally entitled to look for work in South Africa. The organization provides a combination of skills training, professional development, and resources needed for success in the job market.
  • Unite: A unique extra-curricular curriculum for grade 8-11, which provokes a deep exploration of the themes of identity, integration, and diversity to promote activism and critical thought in youth living in South Africa.
  • Welfare: Accessing services for migrants and refugees in need. Through a process of consultation, they assist individuals to access basic services such as medical care, schooling, shelter, South African Social Grants (SASSA grants) and assistance with advice/application for voluntary repatriation.
  • Women’s Platform: A multi-national network of women that strengthens individuals to enhance economic independence and integration into the broader South African community.

Hoe te solliciteren

Send your CV/resume with a short motivation to You will be contacted by someone from Roots Interns as they handle all applications for this internship. They will also assist with accommodation, transfers, guidance and support before and during your internship. Please note fees apply and can be found on the Roots website.


Roots Interns

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