On 8 June 2012, SECTION27 made a submission on the “Discussion Document on the Transformation of the Judicial System and the Role of the Judiciary in the Developmental South African State”. SECTION27 made this submission because we believe that the voice of organisations working for social justice is crucial to debates over the role of the judiciary, especially considering the role that the judiciary has played in the achievement of important social justice victories. We also made the submission as part of our campaign to popularise and deepen an understanding of the Constitution amongst all people—particularly the least privileged amongst us.
The submission sets out the main reasons why poor people are forced to go to court against government, even despite the many obstacles that hinder access to justice. It also deals with the barriers that hinder access to justice in general. The submission further focuses on the legitimate role of the courts in a system of separation of powers and highlights concerns about the Executive conducting an assessment of court decisions. It also draws attention to concerns about the Executive’s capacity to implement court judgements.
On the issue of judicial criticism, the submission points out that, while the courts should not be above scrutiny, criticism of the judiciary should be informed and well-measured, lest it undermine the legitimacy of judicial authority.
The submission is endorsed by the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project; the Treatment Action Campaign and the Forum for the Empowerment of Women.