SA reflects on Human Rights Day

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pretoria – While many holidaymakers are on their way to various destinations for the long weekend, government has called on South Africans to pause and reflect on the significance of Human Rights Day.

Commemorated annually on 21 March, Human Rights Day is a chance for the nation to reflect on the progress made in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

Acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO, Phumla Williams, said this year’s Human Rights Day will be marked under the theme ‘Celebrating 20 years of changing lives through human rights’.

The day, Williams said, is an opportunity for all South Africans to realise how far the country has come, making South Africa a truly better place to live in.

“As we commemorate and celebrate this 20th year of freedom, we must remember that this is the fruit of great sacrifices and pain. We honour those who fought tirelessly so that we can now enjoy freedom.

“Government remains committed to ensuring the protection of human rights in our country, and will continue to reinforce its commitment to the Bill of Rights as enshrined in our Constitution,” said Williams.

Government has put in place systems including the Constitution, supporting legislation, policies and programmes aimed at protecting human rights in the country.

Since the advent of democracy, government has consistently worked on improving the lives of all. 

“Some of the initiatives made by government include the continuous effort to provide universal healthcare, the provision of anti-retroviral treatment for HIV/Aids, the establishment of a national agency on youth development, the promotion of regional human rights programmes and the setting up of the Ministry for Women, Children and People with Disabilities. 

“Today, more people have access to safe drinking water, and more than 12 million people now have a place to call home, as government has invested more than R100 billion in building new homes since 1994,” Williams said.  

While government acknowledges that there are some challenges facing the country, this must not deter citizens as hard work was being done to address these issues, said Williams. 

“As a country, we have improved significantly, given the ripple effect inherited by centuries of apartheid. South Africans have a responsibility to entrench and inculcate the culture of human rights in all facets of society at the highest standards.”

Government urged all citizens to play their part by ensuring that the country’s human rights record and history are preserved and strengthened for future generations.

President Jacob Zuma will address this year’s Human Rights Day celebrations at the Sharpeville Cricket Grounds in Gauteng. He is expected to highlight the achievements made in changing the lives of South Africans, since the adoption and protection of human rights in 1994.

The President will also chart a way forward on how the country should confront the challenges of social ills that perpetually violate human rights. – 

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