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Human Rights Law Internships in Cape Town

Human Rights Law Internships in Cape Town

Gain valuable experience into human rights law and social advocacy in Cape Town, where unique social issues and discrimination affect a range of communities. Interns observe and assist lawyers and advocates in their day-to-day activities, including research, clerical and case management support, and meeting clients.

Internship Highlights:
  • Contribute to real life human rights legal issues and learn from experienced South African professionals
  • Gain practical understanding of life as a human rights lawyer
  • Enjoy spare time exploring the unique and eclectic city of Cape Town, and wider South Africa
Type of host organizations:
  • Law practices
  • Advocacy non-profits
  • Government institutions
  • Refugee centers
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Fully hosted experience from US$1,545
Includes shared lodging accommodation
Typical schedule: Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm
Minimum duration 2 weeks, up to 24 Weeks maximum
Go on safari & discover wildlife
Get job-ready with our Experiential Learning Curriculum
Internships align with UN Sustainable Development Goals
Eligibility requirements and Associated career paths
Eligibility requirement

At least one year of relevant college/university study in a related field, such as law, political science, international development, sociology, African studies, etc.

Language requirements

This internship is conducted in English.

Associated career paths

Assistant Counsel, Attorney, Lawyer, Affirmative Action Officer (AA Officer), Civil Rights Investigator / Representative, Complaint Investigations Officer, Equal Employment Opportunity Officer / Representative, Field Representative, Child Protection Adviser

Internship details

Gain valuable experience into human rights law and social advocacy in Cape Town, where unique social issues and discrimination affect a range of communities. Interns in human rights law observe and assist South African lawyers and advocates in their day-to-day activities, including researching the law, providing clerical and case management support, and meeting clients.

This is an in-country internship, with accommodation provided. Click here to explore remote Law & Human Rights internships, which you can do from home.

The apartheid regime that ended in the 1990s created deep racial divisions within South Africa. The post-apartheid government is still working hard to protect and uphold universal human rights. Social issues such as xenophobia, racism, gender inequality, prejudice, and poverty are still highly prevalent.

On this Human Rights Law internship, you’ll experience how these issues are handled by the South Africa legal system and gain rare insights into how the legal system manages complaints and disputes.

Human Rights interns are placed with local lawyers in private or public practices, non-profit advocacy groups, refugee centers or government institutions. You’ll be interning alongside experienced local law professionals to understand how they go about their role. Within this context, interns have scope to assist with research, case preparation, client meetings, and the provision of legal advice.

As an intern, you’ll gain a realistic understanding of life as a human rights lawyer and advocate, and build your understanding of the complex applications of human rights law. While there can be days that are busy and challenging, there may also be days where the pace is a little slower and you’ll be able to appreciate the administrative tasks that underpin a successful legal practice. In all cases, interns are expected to maintain high standards and collaborate closely with the leadership team of your placement organization.

For this internship, you will need to bring your own laptop and expect to collaborate directly with your project leader in order to coordinate tasks and planning, since priorities may change from one week to the next. This collaborative approach helps you to become more integrated within the placement. However, you should always expect an introductory period initially, during which you’ll gain more of an overview of the organization’s operations and areas of focus. An open mind and commitment to learning is essential!

Outside of your internship, the cultural and historical attractions you can explore will also enrich your understanding of human rights issues. During your weekends, you may visit the District Six Museum, Robben Island, and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. These excellent sites can provide more understanding of South Africa’s history, to deepen the immersive and educational experience of your internship. There are also beautiful scenic attractions that you won’t want to miss - whether hiking Table Mountain, Signal Hill or Lion’s Head for panoramic views of the city, relaxing on the beaches, or meandering along the Garden Route to visit wineries, you’ll find that there is never a dull moment. If you want to plann a safari while you’re in South Africa, let us know! Our team in Cape Town will help you arrange an ethical, responsible and unforgettable tour.

To learn more about the Human Rights & Law internship in Cape Town, click here to read about Joseph’s experience.

Career Benefits

Human Rights Law interns learn from a qualified and experienced supervisor, and can be involved in:
  • Researching legal precedents and statutes

  • Helping to prepare for cases

  • Meeting clients

  • Managing caseloads

  • Providing clerical support

Professional development opportunities:
  • Gain understanding of human rights law in South Africa

  • Learn from an experienced local legal professional

  • Develop your understanding of legal processes

  • Build research skills and experience applying the law to individual situations

  • Understand the daily requirements of legal professionals

  • Gain practical skills and boost your employability, with guidance from Intern Abroad HQ’s Experiential Learning Curriculum to support your learning and cultural intelligence.

South Africa photo gallery

Read reviews from our South Africa Interns

”The Human Rights Law internship in South Africa greatly empowered me because I realized that I am actually made for a career in law - it gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture, provided me with fulfillment, confidence, a sense of purpose and expanded my worldview. I met with real-life clients, handled legal cases and went to court - these are experiences that I’d never get from a textbook!”

Read reviews from our South Africa Interns

Our commitment to providing safe internship experiences

Academic credit available for all internships

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing an internship abroad or remote internship program with Intern Abroad HQ.

Learn about course credit

Program fees

It’s free to apply for this internship. Once we have reviewed your suitability and accepted you onto this program, you’ll need to pay a deposit of US$449 to confirm your place. The remaining balance of your Program Fee (less your initial US$449 deposit payment) will be due no less than 60 days before your internship start date.

Program Fee (USD)
2 weeks $1,545Equivalent to $110/day
3 weeks $1,697Equivalent to $80/day
4 weeks $1,899Equivalent to $67/day
5 weeks $2,051Equivalent to $58/day
6 weeks $2,228Equivalent to $53/day
8 weeks $2,531Equivalent to $45/day
10 weeks $3,117Equivalent to $44/day
12 weeks $3,421Equivalent to $40/day
16 weeks $4,138Equivalent to $36/day
20 weeks $4,745Equivalent to $33/day
24 weeks $5,353Equivalent to $31/day
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • Airport pick-up
  • Program orientation
  • Dedicated support before, during, and after your internship
  • In-country guidance for social and tourist activities
  • Sourcing and securing your internship placement
  • Personalization of your internship plan
  • Coaching from your supervisor
  • Documented portfolio of your experiential learnings
  • Academic credit facilitation
  • International reference letter
  • Certificate of Internship Completion
  • Meals
  • Visa (if required), flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check
  • Transfer back to the airport at the end of your internship program
  • Optional extras, such as language lessons
  • Souvenirs and leisure activities during your free time
  • Personal spending money to cover basic expenses such as drinks, snacks, laundry, public transportation, and any meals not included in your Program Fee
  • A deposit of $449 USD is required to secure your internship
  • Balance of your Program Fee is due 60 days before your internship start date.
  • All payments attract a 5% transaction fee to cover international banking fees and currency charges.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.

Arrival and Orientation

Internships in Cape Town begin every Monday and interns may choose to spend a minimum of 2 weeks, up to a maximum of 24 weeks. (Exceptions to start date availability may occur when start dates are closed due to public holiday disruptions or if the program has already reached capacity). Fewer internship positions are available during late December and early January, due to the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Airport pick up and accommodation are included in the Program Fee. The accommodation is covered from the Saturday night before the Monday start date. Interns are asked to arrive on the Saturday before their Monday start date, to allow sufficient time over the weekend to rest and become oriented before beginning on the Monday. The last night of accommodation that is covered by the Program Fee is the Friday night of the final week, leaving interns to depart on the Saturday morning. Extra nights of accommodation can be pre-arranged upon request and paid for separately.

All participants fly into the Cape Town International Airport (CPT), in order to receive their airport pick up and be transported to the accommodation by a pre-arranged driver. Upon arrival to the accommodation, interns are met by a local team member, who will greet them and assist with settling in. Note that all participants are advised not to book flights until they have first registered to confirm their internship placement.

Orientation typically takes place on the Sunday before the Monday start date. It covers important details for the internship, including introductions, information about culture, customs, rules, expectations, safety, language lessons, cultural excursions, and more. Interns join their placement on the following day.

If you are planning to spend time in Cape Town prior to your internship and will not require an airport pick up, we can arrange an alternative pick up from another location within the central city.

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Accommodation and WiFi

Internship placements are spread throughout Cape Town’s main city center and surrounding suburbs. Accommodation arrangements will be confirmed, once your internship placement has also been assigned. In most cases, you can expect accommodation to be situated in either the upmarket residential area of Fresnaye, situated between Signal Hill and Sea Point’s Main Road and popular promenade, or within the Observatory district (best known as a student neighbourhood, near to the University of Cape Town).

Interns are accommodated within shared lodging, making it easy to connect with fellow program participants. Interns can expect to share a room with another intern (of the same gender). Bathrooms are also shared with a hot water shower and western toilets. WiFi is available and is also accessible at nearby cafes and restaurants. All accommodation provides cooking facilities. For participants seeking a private bedroom, accommodation upgrades can be requested (for an additional cost) and are subject to availability.

Transportation is not provided for in-country commutes between the accommodation and internship placements, so all interns must budget for this independently. The maximum travel time is typically no more than 60 minutes each way (depending on traffic congestion in the city). In all cases, internship placements will be assigned in consideration of commute logistics and opportunities to ride-share with other interns, where possible.

For convenience and safety, local coordinators can arrange a dedicated shuttle service for ongoing placement commutes (Monday through Friday). The cost for this service ranges from approx. US$150 - US$250 a month, per person, depending on the location of your placement. (On a daily basis, this could be equated to approx. US$6-9 per day). If you want to organize this service, please communicate with coordinators when your placement details are being arranged in advance.

Alternatively, for the use of Uber, it is possible to spend US$10-US$20 per day on rides, depending on where you’re going. Please budget for this, especially if you intend to use this transportation method a lot during weekends and free time.


It is important to note that internships in Cape Town do not include meals. The accommodation is located within short walking distance to an affordable supermarket, as well as great cafes and restaurants. All accommodation also provides cooking facilities.

You can readily drink the tap water throughout the city. However, it is advised to bring your own water supply when traveling to and interning in the townships.

You should aim to budget approximately US$100 per week for food. If you like to go out frequently (rather than going to the grocery store to prepare some of your own meals) then you need to budget up to US$150 per week, at least (this budget can vary depending on personal spending habits). Note that, when you go to a restaurants, there is a cultural expectation to tip at least 10%.

Activities and tourism

On the weekend, interns have spare time to relax and explore. There’s something for everyone, with nightlife, café culture, music, festivals, food markets, wine tours, hiking, and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the continent! Here are some of our top picks for activities around Cape Town:

  • Hiking around Table Mountain National Park, just ten minutes from central Cape Town, is a great option to keep fit and healthy and there are lots of trails to explore for any level of adventurer. Reach the top of Table mountain by foot, or take a return cable-car. Don’t forget to challenge yourself to summit Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head!

  • Shark cage diving is an exhilarating experience - if you’re feeling brave enough! Get eye-to-eye with a great white from the safety of a cage or observe from the comfort of the boat. Most dives cost around $130USD, but shop around and speak to others to ensure you get a fair price (based on the season).

  • The Neighbourgoods Market, located at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock (close to the Observatory district) features over 100 specialty traders every Saturday, creating a weekly platform for local farmers, fine-food purveyors, organic merchants, bakers and distributors, grocers, mongers, butchers, artisan producers, celebrated local chefs, and micro enterprises. Don’t miss it!

  • Kick back and relax over the weekend, with a slow-paced wine tour through some of Cape Town’s loveliest estates. Learn about the history of how wine was introduced to the area and sample a delicious selection.

  • General tours to Robben Island usually depart every day. With a rich 500 year, multi-layered history, the island is visited every year by thousands of people, who learn about important aspects of South Africa’s history.

  • The Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), is located in a converted grain silo, overlooking the Atlantic on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront. The institution has 100 galleries spread over nine floors and the exhibitions focus exclusively on 21st-century work from Africa and the diaspora.

  • For history-buffs, take a wander through South Africa’s oldest building, the Castle of Good Hope. The magnificent building contains displays of historical and military paraphernalia, an art collection, a restaurant as well as a history of the castle itself.

Essential country information

Capital Pretoria (Executive), Bloemfontein (Judicial), Cape Town (Legislative)
Population 55.91 million
Languages Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Swati, Tswana
Currency South African Rand (ZAR)
Time zone UTC+02:00
Weather and climate:

South Africa is generally temperate, however due to varied topography and oceanic influence, a great variety of climatic zones exist. This ranges from the extreme desert of the Namib (northwest South Africa), to the subtropical climate along the Mozambique border and the Indian Ocean (eastern South Africa). Winters in South Africa occur between June and August.

In Cape Town, the summers are warm, dry, and mostly clear; the winters are long, cool, wet, and partly cloudy. It is windy year round and common to see windsurfers enjoying the surf. Over the course of the year, the temperature in Cape Town typically varies from 48°F (9°C) to 76°F (24°C). The warm season in Cape Town usually ranges from December through March and the coldest months are June through September.