Govt to continue bringing justice facilities closer to the poor

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kimberley - Government will continue to bring justice facilities closer to poor communities to ensure the human rights of the marginalised are protected.

This was announced on Saturday by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Envy Surty during the celebrations of Human Rights Day held in Galashewe Stadium in Kimberley.

The minister said the government was extending its projects to build magistrate courts closer to the rural areas in order to enhance the rights of the poor to access justice facilities.

He said in partnership with the relevant Chapter 9 institutions, he was positive that the programmes which were designed to enhance access to justice for the marginalised would effectively flourish.

Minister Surty said the Constitution requires every citizen to have access to justice as a fundamental human right, adding that Human Rights Day also encourages the public to learn more about their rights.

He told more than 3000 people who attended the event that his department has passed several legislations in connection with the promotion and protection of human rights, adding that it still needed to be approved by Cabinet.

Among the legislations passed by the department include human trafficking and legislation on stalking which will form part of the fight against the abuse of human rights.

Speaking at the event President Motlanthe affirmed that government was committed to bring justice facilities closer to the poor through building additional courts and service delivery points for justice services to ensure that the remote and rural communities were reached.

"Since the advent of democracy, 23 new courts have been built and 58 courts have been refurbished.

"These new courts are accessible to people including people with disabilities. There are five other courts that are still under construction and 18 more courts will be built in the next five years," he said.

The President added that construction of a new High Court for the people of Limpopo will commence soon, adding that this will go a long way in ensuring that the people of Limpopo will no longer have to travel to Gauteng to have their matters heard by the a High Court.

Government is also re-designating 23 of the 90 branch courts into full courts which will ensure access to courts for communities in rural, former Bantustan and townships.

The government has also sought to address the issue of language in the justice system since language can be a barrier for people to access justice in courts.

The President said in line with the Constitution, government has introduced a pilot project to use indigenous languages in courts.

The project will ensure that at least one court per region conducts proceedings in indigenous languages and will further minimise the possibility of human error during the translation of court proceedings.
South Africans countrywide observe Human Rights Day on 21 March, recognising the struggles endured to achieve democracy and reinforce freedom.

Themed "Celebrating 15 Years of Human Rights", the day was set aside to remind South Africans and the world that people in South Africa will never again be denied their human rights.