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Justice Department committed to fight for socio-economic justice

21 September 2015

The fight for socio-economic rights was very much part of the struggle during the dark days of apartheid and we cannot now start to relax until all South Africans enjoy this fundamental right to beat poverty and inequalities.

This assertion was made by Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr John Jeffery when he delivered a keynote address during a capacity building workshop of the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) held in Midrand Conference Centre today, 21 September 2015.

The purpose of the workshop is to develop an implementation framework for the ICESCR was ratified by South Africa early this year and provide an in-depth overview of ICESCR and the obligations on the State Party as well as the linkages with the National Development Plan amongst others.

The ICESCR is an international human rights treaty which establishes an international framework for the protection and realization by state parties of socio-economic rights such as the right to food, housing, healthcare and education.

Deputy Minister Jeffery feels that the ratification of the Covenant early this year brings South Africa a step closer to the realization of both bread and butter issues and political freedom.

“Ratifying the Covenant represents an important step forward, giving the ICESCR greater force. South Africa’s ratification will deepen the enforcement of the socio-economic rights in the country. The ratification of the Covenant further necessitates aligning domestic legislation, policies and programmes with the obligations contained in the ICESCR”, he said.

Jeffery added that by acceding to this Covenant South Africa is afforded an opportunity to view employment and job creation through a rights-based perspective and to draw on the resources and experience available through the Covenant and its supervisory body, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“For us in government, and I’m sure for those of you in academia and in civil society, it is important that the rights on the Covenant become part of the daily lives of our people. For this reason it is important for us to create linkages with the National Development Plan and the various outcomes in terms of the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019”, he emphasized.

Furthermore, he stressed that the delivery of socio-economic rights is not only the responsibility of government because other arms of the state such as the judiciary and legislature have a big role to play as well.

During this workshop the role of the Chapter 9 institutions on socio-economic rights will be discussed as well as the role of the civil society and the private sector.
Recently, the Department held a National Colloquium on Constitutional Awareness and Human Rights Education, an initiative to ensure that people know about their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

On top of this, other interventions have been initiated to ensure that school learners are also aware of their rights through a “Constitution Made Easy for Learners” initiative, a Slimline constitution that has been distributed to schools throughout the country.

Jeffery urged civil society to work with government to make South Africa a better place for all.

Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development  

Enquiries: Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga
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