South African Freedom Fighter to Visit NUI Galway

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway, will host a special guest lecture by Justice Albie Sachs of the Constitutional Court of South Africa on Monday, 2 November. Justice Sachs' talk 'Paved with More than Good Intentions: from Port Elizabeth via Modderklip to 51 Olivia Road' will analyse historic evictions and land laws from the Constitutional Court of South Africa. As a young Jewish man in South Africa, Sachs worked as an attorney and has been a leader in the struggle for human rights in South Africa for over 40 years. He is well known for being a freedom fighter in the African National Congress. The author of numerous books on issues of gender, law and human rights, he was twice detained without trial by the security police under the Apartheid regime. In 1966 Justice Sachs went into exile, spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England. In 1988, he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo, Mozambique, by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight in one eye. After recovering from the bomb he devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. While in exile during the 1980s, he helped draft the Constitutional Court of South Africa s Code of Conduct and its statutes. In 1990 he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations, which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994 he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court. Dr Vinodh Jaichand, Deputy Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, comments: "The debt that South Africa, and the world, owes to Justice Albie Sachs is immense. As a political activist against apartheid he paid the price by being detained, exiled and losing an arm and an eye when the security police bombed his car. As an academic he was one of the architects of South Africa's independence, especially in drafting the much-acclaimed Bill of Rights, and as a constitutional advisor to the ANC. As a jurist he is one of the eminent voices of an internationally renowned Constitutional Court tasked with the establishment of jurisprudence that resonated with the core values of freedom, equality and dignity in a deeply divided country. This is a rare occasion to listen to one of the first-hand experts on human rights law in the world". Justice Sachs' new book by Oxford University Press, The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law provides deep insights into the way in which judging takes place. It has already become prescribed reading at two European institutions dealing with the study of human rights. The free public event takes place on Monday, 2 November, at 12.30pm in the Siobhan McKenna Theatre, Arts Millennium Building, NUI Galway.
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