3 December 2012

South Africa: ANC Statement On the Passing On of Justice Arthur Chaskalson

Photo: Centre for Human Rights
Arthur Chaskalson.

press release

The African National Congress is at pains in expressing its loss with the passing on today of the former Chief Justice and former President of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Justice Arthur Chaskalson.

South Africa has lost a sterling and outstanding South African who had a huge and immeasurable impact on our Constitutional democracy and the post apartheid jurisprudence. He served this country selflessly and sterlingly as the Chief Justice of South Africa and subsequently as the President of the Constitutional Court.

Judge Chaskalson played a pivotal role in opposing apartheid laws and their manifestations. He was amongst the leading lawyers during the Rivonia Trial in defending the Rivonia Trialists. He also became key during negotiations for a post apartheid South Africa. He was a leading figure in the ANC's brain trust on Constitutional and legal matters. He was well known by all parliamentarians as he had the rare opportunity to swear in all democratically elected parliamentarians in South Africa in 1994 . He has served as the President of the International Commission of Jurists.

As a judge he is credited for a number of ground breaking rulings and judgements. Owing to his diligence and hard work, in 1990 he received the Human Rights Award of the Foundation for Freedom and Human Rights in Berne, Switzerland. He has also received awards for his human rights work from the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and the General Council of the Bar of South Africa. In 2002, he was awarded the Order of the Counsellor of the Baobab in Gold for Exceptional Service in Law, Constitutional, Jurisprudence and Human Rights. The Order of the Baobab is one of the highest awards given to citizens in South Africa.

The passing on of Arthur Chaskalson has left a void in the arena of legal minds that is critical in our continued effort to fine tune and achieve best practice in our endeavour to entrench constitutional legislation and our democratic institutions.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank his family for having given South Africa an extraordinary leader whose legacy will be unmatched. To them, we extend our heartfelt condolences.

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