Press Releases

Human Rights Festival Launch Press Alert

Constitution Hill in partnership with human rights and social justice fraternity is proud to present the inaugural “Human Rights Festival” which will be taking place during Human Rights Month from 23-25th March.

The Human Rights Festival is a symbolic commemoration of Human Rights Day which pays homage to all those who lost their lives in the fight for democracy, particularly during the Sharpeville Massacre of 21 March 1960, when police opened fire on a group of peaceful protestors marching against the apartheid pass laws. In total, 69 unarmed protestors were killed and at least 180 injured.

The Constitution Hill precinct during that era was once a notorious site of darkness, repression and human rights abuses but has now been transformed into a beacon of hope and a sight for the ultimate protector of our Constitutional Human Rights - the Constitutional Court. The festival is an acknowledgement of this milestone and is a celebration meant to celebrate the gains but more importantly highlight what is still required towards the socio-economic emancipation of all in our Continent.

The festival incorporates a robust programme involving social justice and human rights activists across all spectrums of our society as well as all citizens committed to the realization of the full maturation of our young democracy. The key aim of the festival is to enhance participatory democracy through public policy dialogue, civil-society networking and strengthening the capacity of civil-society organizations.

The Festival includes an Activist Row of tents or interactive activist booths hosted by several relevant NGOs at the door of the Constitutional Court.  The stalls of participating organizations will be clustered around the Social Forum aligned to their identified focus areas.

Other offerings of the festival include; a book festival, poetry festival, music festival and the Annual Constitution Hill “We the people Walk” which will conclude the event on the Sunday of the weekend. Delectable Food as well as a colourful and fun children’s showcase will also be part of the festive weekend.

Constitution Hill is proud to be partnering with key organizations for the event including Brand SA, Nelson Mandela Foundation; Thuli Madonsela Foundation; Khulisa and a broad fraternity of NGOs in the Social Justice and Human Rights arenas.

“The inaugural Human Rights Festival is rooted by our Constitution and aims to build greater awareness and knowledge of constitutional rights”; says Constitution Hill CEO, Ms. Dawn Robertson. “The festival is therefore a call for all to take a stand to promote and advance human rights in all areas of society. The Constitution and the rights enshrined therein can only be animated by active citizenry whose very agency is protected by the Constitution”.

The programme of the festival will be formally launched to the media on the 20th February (11:30 am) within Constitution Hill at an event jointly hosted by Professor Madonsela, Khulisa and the Constitution Hill Precinct.