Sustained Dialogues Programme

By Published On: 29th August 2019

IJR joins HURISA in celebrating 25 years of democracy

Felicity Harrison

Sustained Dialogues Head of Department, Felicity Harrison at the HURISA celebration

Earlier in the year IJR co-hosted the Western Cape celebration of 25 years of democracy and 25 years of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA). At the launch of the report IJR’s Felicity Harrison gave a message of support from the Western Cape, highlighting the need to work on justice in order to achieve reconciliation. IJR’s Jodi Williams was a panelist talking about the experience of vulnerable groups. She highlighted some of the challenges that the LGBTIAP+ community face to their dignity and argued for having a more sensitive and inclusive society.

To celebrate their 25th birthday HURISA launched a report and invited organizations from around the country to come and to share their experiences from the ground. There was a diverse range of organizations from gender to environmental organizations. The event was opened by the Chairperson, Moses Dlamini, who emphasized the need for creating a human rights culture in South Africa. Citing examples from within SAPS, he noted that there is still much to be done.  He was followed by the Danish Ambassador to South Africa, Tobias Rehfeld.

The keynote address concentrated on the need to build a human rights culture in South Africa, especially in the face of the growing reports on corruption in the public sector.

The rest of the celebration was divided into panels which dealt with:

  • Civil and Political Rights
  • Economic and Social Rights
  • Environmental and Cultural Rights; and
  • Vulnerable Groups.

Many of the challenges that we are facing are the same: time and again the problem of implementation was identified as being the key problem.  It was widely recognized that we have laws and policies which are good on paper but there is a massive gap between them and the lived reality on the ground.

In her presentation on people living with albinism, Tryphinia Nhlapo captured the voice of so many when she said: “We don’t have human rights. We are not free in our own country”.  This statement perhaps more than any other encapsulated the event: South Africa may have come a long way since the evils of apartheid, but it has still got a long way to go until we are all safe and free.

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