Sheila B. Keetharuth

Sheila B. Keetharuth, Vice-President AAIL (East Africa), is a human rights defender from Mauritius who has worked and travelled in mainland Africa for over two and a half decades. She is a committed human rights advocate having extensive experience in research, advocacy, litigation and training in Africa.


Sheila B. Keetharuth was appointed as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.  The UN Human Rights Council proceeded with the appointment for a one-year mandate during its 21st regular session, which ended on 28 September 2012. She started her mandate on 1 November 2012.

Until 30 June 2012, Ms. Keetharuth was the Executive Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), a pan-African NGO based in Banjul, The Gambia.  She led the organisation’s work in using the African human rights system to access justice for victims of human rights violations on the continent and the development of the African Human Rights Caselaw Analyser, a unique online platform of African human rights cases.  She was closely involved in the work leading to the adoption of the Guidelines and Principles on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted in 2011.

In July 2002, she joined Amnesty International as a Researcher at Africa Regional Office in Kampala, Uganda. She was the Interim Head of Office until December 2005.  She trains in Monitoring and Documenting Human Rights violations and using the African Human Rights System to access justice in Africa.

A broadcaster for over eight years, Sheila worked with the Programme Exchange Centre of the Union of Radio and Television Organisations of Africa (URTNA-PEC), Nairobi, Kenya, and with the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). As a fellow of the Reuter Foundation (1989-1990) Sheila spent a year at the University of Oxford, UK, studying International Relations and Law.

After reading for her LLB (University of Buckingham, UK) and her LLM in International Human Rights Law and Civil Liberties, (University of Leicester, UK), Ms. Keetharuth was called to the Bar in Mauritius in January 1997. 

She is currently enrolled as a part-time doctoral candidate at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her particular interests are:  business and human rights, extractive industries, women's human rights and litigation to strengthen the African human rights system.

In 2011, the Madrid Bar Association awarded her a Medal of Honour for her human rights work on the African continent.

Her publications include:

Keetharuth, SB. (2009) «Major African Legal Instruments and Human Rights » in Bosl, A. & Diescho, J. (Eds.) Human Rights in Africa: Legal Perspectives on their Protection and Promotion, Macmillan Education Namibia.Keetharuth, SB.  (2009) “Les peuples autochtones de la République du Congo – discrimination et esclavage?” Londres, Royaume Uni, Anti-Slavery International Forthcoming - Human Rights in Africa: An introduction with Action Learning Exercises, with Prof. William Paul Simmons, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.