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 16 and 17 September 2010, over 60 members of civil society organisations and trade unions met to discuss their work and their efforts – independently and through the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) – to strengthen the national response to HIV and to achieve the goals of the National Strategic Plan (NSP). The aim of the meeting was to define a new agenda going forward for civil society activism both within and independent of SANAC and to focus on our human right to health.
We are organisations that campaign for social justice. The success of our work is dependent on respect for the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. The right to free expression and freedom of the press and other media are essential components of democracy. That is why they are contained in the Bill of Rights. They are one of the essential means by which all people in South Africa, especially the vulnerable, exploited and poor, can hold government and the powerful private business sector to account.
A broad range of civil society organisations have called on the South African government to distance themselves from homophobic and unconstitutional comments made by Jerry Matjila, South Africa’s representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. Matjila said that to protect gay people, “demeans the legitimate plight of the victims of racism”.
Leading activist organisations have condemned the cruel sentence by a Malawian magistrate imposed on Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, two men (one of whom is transgender and identifies as a woman) because they held a public engangement. They have been sentenced to 14 years in hard labour.
We condemn in the strongest terms the 14 years of hard labour sentence handed down by a court in Blantyre to Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga for committing so-called “unnatural acts”. Steven and Tiwonge were arrested in December 2009 after celebrating their engagement and have been in jail ever since.