South African Chief Justice to speak at NUI Galway
Monday, 25 June 2007
The Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway will proudly host a special visit by Justice Pius Langa, Chief Justice of South Africa, who will deliver a seminar entitled: A Review of the Work of the South African Constitutional Court: the Retrospect and Prospect on Saturday, 30 June, 2007.
Last year, South Africa celebrated the 10th anniversary of the signing of its constitution. Thus, the visit by Chief Justice Langa is both timely and opportune. The constitution, signed into law by the country's first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, at Sharpeville, on 10 December 1996, has been widely regarded as the most progressive in the world. The protection of human rights along with the promotion of equality, diversity and social justice are among the aspirations embodied in the constitution, which was negotiated in the acute awareness of the country's history of injustice and oppression.
Pius Nkonzo Langa was appointed a Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa in October 1994 and became Deputy President of that Court in August 1997. He was appointed Deputy Chief Justice of South Africa in November 2001 and assumed the position of Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa on 1 June 2005.
During Chief Justice Langa's early practice as an advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa, political trials predominated, and his practice reflected the struggle against apartheid. His clientele included the underprivileged, civic bodies, trade unions and people charged under apartheid security legislation. He was also a founder member of the Release Mandela Committee (Natal) and served in the committees formed to accelerate and prepare for the release of political prisoners.
Justice Langa has participated in numerous conferences abroad and delivered papers and lectures on a variety of law and human rights-related topics. He has participated in the work of constitutional review commissions in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Tanzania. Langa assisted in the formation of and is the current chairman of the Southern African Judges Commission, a forum for Chief Justices of SADC and other jurisdictions in other Southern African jurisdictions. The Commission's focus is, among other things, the promotion and protection of the independence of the judiciary and the promotion and development of a culture of human rights in the Southern African region.
According to Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Dr Vinodh Jaichand, the visit by Chief Justice Langa is the highlight of a very full academic year a the Centre. "This will be an opportunity to hear first-hand how the Constitutional Court's internationally acclaimed decisions have affected the lives of the millions affected by the notorious practice of apartheid. In its landmark decisions on the legal protection of the right to health care and housing, for example, the South African Constitutional Court has clearly illustrated the vital role that courts can play in the protection of socio-economic rights."
Justice Pius Langa is among six outstanding individuals from the worlds of business, philanthropy, justice, music and the arts to be conferred with honorary degrees from National University of Ireland, Galway on Friday 29 June, 2007.
The seminar will commence at 10 am at the Irish Centre for Human Rights and all are welcome.