A world-leading advocate for human rights and peace will deliver the inaugural address at a prestigious new lecture series at the University of Strathclyde .
Dr Albie Sachs, Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, will share his experiences of defending people charged under racist statutes during the country’s pre-1994 apartheid regime. Justice Sachs – to be awarded an honorary doctorate by Strathclyde tomorrow (July 2) – will discuss the theme of “Offenders and Victims: Truth, Punishment and Reconciliation” at the first John Fitzsimons Memorial Lecture in Criminal Law and Justice, being held at the University this evening (July 1).
Professor Cyrus Tata, of Strathclyde’s Law School, said: “Albie Sachs has led a life which can be described, without any exaggeration, as both remarkable and inspirational.
“Although Sachs’ immediate contribution has been to build a non-racial South Africa, his life and work have also helped to inspire both change and reconciliation throughout the world. In his life, values writings, actions and legal judgements, Sachs is a truly inspirational figure, not only in his courage in addressing the injustice and absurdity of apartheid, but even more so in his determination to facilitate the healing of a fractured and divided society in its aftermath.
“Given Sachs’ immense achievements, I cannot think of anyone more fitting to deliver the first John Fitzsimons Memorial Lecture in Criminal Law and Justice at the University of Strathclyde, where he will address issues of justice, vengeance, truth and reconciliation, distributive rights and how a justice system can and should move forward.”
During South Africa’s apartheid era, Sachs’ home was raided by security police, he was subject to banning orders restricting his movement, and was tortured and placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention. In 1988 – while in exile in Mozambique – a bomb was placed under his car by South African security agents, causing the loss of his right arm and the loss of sight in one eye.
After recovering from the injuries caused by the explosion, Sachs devoted himself to preparations for a new democratic constitution for South Africa. He was one of the chief architects of – and a persuasive advocate for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights and independent judiciary in – the widely-admired, post-apartheid constitution.
Following the South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, Sachs was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to the new Constitutional Court, where he served until 2009.
Sachs is also an internationally-acclaimed author and his 1966 book, “The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs”, was dramatised by the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as for BBC television.
The John Fitzsimons Memorial Lecture in Criminal Law and Justice has been founded in honour of one of Strathclyde Law School’s most inspirational Lecturers. Mr Fitzsimons joined the Law School in 1964 and, after 20 years’ service, became a respected Sheriff, remaining continuously at Dumbarton Sheriff Court for nearly two decades.
The first John Fitzsimons Memorial Lecture in Criminal Law also launches a new scholarship fund, dedicated to helping mature Strathclyde law students who would not otherwise be able to afford to study.
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