Pretoria — Justice Deputy Minister Andries Nel has thanked the Constitutional Court Clerks Alumni Association and the Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Pro Bono Office for their efforts to create awareness about the South African Constitution and human rights.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Constitutional Law and Human Rights Seminar organised by the two groups in Alexandra, Johannesburg, on Thursday, Nel noted that the two had come together in partnership with the leaders of the Alexandra community to present the seminar.
"Through this partnership, the association has realised one of the important objectives it had set itself - that of engaging in meaningful legal education. It has created a conducive environment for learning about and reflecting on the foundational document of our post-apartheid state," he said.
It had also contributed to raising consciousness regarding the South African Constitution and human rights, Nel said.
"Importantly, this seminar has also established a basis for networking amongst NGOs and capacitating leaders of NGOs to help build a human rights culture throughout the NGO sector and Alexandra community and assisted participants to define their role in a constitutional democracy," he added.
It was significant that the seminar took place in Alexandra - a community that was marking its centenary this year and had a proud history of struggle for democracy and human rights.
He noted that the Justice Department had partnered with the Foundation for Human Rights to support civil society organisations working in the justice and human rights sector through the Access to Justice and Promotion of Constitutional Rights Programme.
This programme, with the financial support of the European Union, seeks to address areas such as:
- Improved access to justice for vulnerable and marginalised groups;
- Improved awareness and knowledge of Constitutional rights in South Africa for vulnerable and marginalised groups; and
- Enhanced participatory democracy through public policy dialogue and strengthening civil society organisations.
"The overall objective of the programme is to contribute to the strengthening of democracy by improving access to justice and promoting constitutional rights through civil society organisations. In implementing this programme priority is given to the most vulnerable groups in society," Nel said.