This year, the ICJ collaborated with the South African Judicial Education Institute (SAJEI) to conduct workshops aimed at strengthening the ability of judicial officers, including Magistrates, to deliver judgments in line with the Constitution and international law. The workshops focused on housing rights and informal traders’ rights.
Topics covered included the social and economic context of South Africa, the role of judicial officers in ensuring the protection of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) and the obligation to consider international law standards.
The workshops were conducted using the ICJ Practitioners’ Guide on ESCR and tailor-made training resources that the ICJ designed and produced with SAJEI, while the European Union and the German Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen’s Zivik programme supported the training financially.
Senior magistrate and judicial educator at SAJEI Jinx Bhoola and ICJ Legal Advisor Tim Fish Hodgson facilitated the workshops with the support of ICJ Associate Legal Advisor Khanyo Farisè.
Most of the judicial officers who participated were Magistrates.
“Ensuring effective access at a magistrates’ court level is crucial as Magistrates are the judicial officers concerned with delivering justice in the majority of cases at first instance level. Besides, the majority of people living in South Africa will rarely have the means or assistance to access justice in High Courts,” Hodgson said.
The workshops aimed to introduce the international human rights law and standards framework on social and economic rights to Magistrates.
“The hope is that Magistrates will be able to more effectively perform their functions, while drawing on international law, in cases relating to housing rights and the rights of informal traders if equipped with easily accessible resources to do so,” Hodgson added.
Adding to this, Farisè said: “There is sometimes an assumption that certain groups of individuals are excluded from the rights provided for in the Bill of Rights. It must be emphasized that international human rights law and the right to dignity in the South African Constitution apply to all”.
“When considering these cases, it’s important that judicial officers including Magistrates, have a human rights approach,” Farisè added.
The workshops were well-received. “The Magistrates engaged with energy and enthusiasm with the workshop material, confident that they will be able to ensure the enforcement of socio-economic rights and the securing of access to justice for all in South Africa,” Hodgson said.
Khanyo Farisè, Legal Adviser, e: Nokukhanya.Farise(a)icj.org
Tim Fish Hodgson (Legal Adviser), e: Timothy.Hodgson(a)icj.orgEventsNews