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Sheila B. Keetharuth is a human rights defender from Mauritius who has worked and travelled in mainland Africa for nearly three decades. She is a committed human rights advocate having extensive experience in research, advocacy, litigation and training in Africa.
Ms Keetharuth was appointed as the first Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea in October 2012. From 2014 to 2016, she also served as a member of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea.
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. 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. After reading for an LLM in International Human Rights Law and Civil Liberties at the University of Leicester (UK), Ms Keetharuth was called to the Bar in Mauritius in January 1997. Her particular interests are: human rights and business, extractive industries and litigation to strengthen the African human rights system.
In 2010, the Madrid Bar Association awarded her a Medal of Honour for her human rights work on the African continent. A broadcaster for over eight years, Ms Keetharuth 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 Reuters Foundation (1989-1990) Ms Keetharuth spent a year at the University of Oxford, UK, studying law, international relations and politics.
Since May 2014, Ms Keetharuth is an expert member of the Working Group on Extractive Industries, Environment and Human Rights Violations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.