SECTION27 is a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights. Our name is drawn from the section in the South African Constitution which enshrines everyone's right to health care, food, water and social security.
On 18 July 2011, the Constitutional Court heard argument in the matter concerning the President’s recent extension of the Chief Justice’s term of office (set to expire at midnight on 14 August 2011). As set out in our last newsletter, SECTION27 acted on behalf of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL), which was admitted as amicus curiae (“friend of the court”).
SECTION27, which was launched in May 2010, incorporates the AIDS Law Project (ALP), an organisation which for nearly a decade and a half pioneered litigation and advocacy regarding the rights of people living with HIV. In this new documentary three of the founders of SECTION27 – Mark Heywood, Adila Hassim and Jonathan Berger – talk about how law can and has been used to advance campaigns for the right to health and social justice more broadly.
Transparent governance, free expression and a free press are essential components of democracy. They are the means by which all people in South Africa, especially the vulnerable and poor, can hold our government to account. Our effectiveness at getting the state to implement HIV treatment and prevention programmes has been dependent on the Constitution being upheld, especially the Bill of Rights.
In the last week there has been much controversy regarding a report on municipal audit outcomes, with particular focus having been placed on allegations in the press that the report was returned to the National Treasury for it to be “repackaged” and not released in the run-up to the local government elections on 18 May 2011. This has been strongly denied by government. Whatever the truth, SECTION27 takes the view that this largely distracting sideshow has masked the real underlying issues.
SECTION27 recently made a written submission to Parliament on the State Liability Amendment Bill [B 2–2001]. In short, SECTION27 supports how the Bill seeks to regulate the manner in which a final court order sounding in money against the state must be satisfied – it sees the Bill as being squarely in line with the decisions of the Constitutional Court in Nyathi v MEC for Department of Health, Gauteng and Another  ZACC 8 (“Nyathi 1”) and Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development v Nyathi  ZACC 29 (“Nyathi 2”) dealing with the unconstitutionality of section 3 of the State Liability Act 20 of 1957 and how it is to be remedied.