SA Human Rights Commission to intervene in Caster Semenya case

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Caster Semenya (Pic: Shutterstock.com)

The European Court of Human Rights has allowed the SA Human Rights Commission to intervene as a third party in Caster Semenya’s bid to compete freely.

Semenya is challenging the demeaning and intrusive regulations implemented by World Athletics in 2018 which prohibit some women athletes with naturally higher levels of testosterone from participating in international competitions.

The commission said it was the first time that it has become involved in human rights litigation in an international forum. It’s also believed to be the first known occasion that the court has granted leave to intervene to an African human rights institution.

Refusing to take medication to artificially reduce her testosterone levels, Semenya was barred from defending her women’s 800 metres Gold medal title at the Tokyo Olympics.

In February, the three-time world champion appealed the Swiss Federal Supreme Court’s 2020 refusal to block the humiliating World Athletics policy.

While that court found that the regulations do indeed violate Semenya’s right to physical integrity (among other rights) they did not amount to a violation of Swiss public policy.

“The Commission sought leave to intervene in the matter so as to elucidate the adverse impacts of World Athletics’ Differences of Sex Development (DSD) regulations on women from the Global South,” said the SAHRC in a statement.

It added that it also aims to make submissions that will “demonstrate the discriminatory effect of the regulations on the intersecting grounds of race and gender…”

The Commission has been granted leave to make written submissions to the court by 12 October 2021.

The World Athletics rules have been condemned by international human rights groups, the UN Human Rights Council, Athletics South Africa and the South African government.

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