News Release

Ulster Honours Distinguished South African Jurist Albie Sachs

8th July 2008

Dr Albie Sachs with wife Vanessa, son Oliver, and teddy bear Paco 

South African human rights activist and lawyer Albie Sachs has been awarded an honorary degree by the University of Ulster at its summer graduations.

He was awarded a Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree in recognition of his contribution to human rights and justice globally.

He began his legal career as an advocate at the Cape Bar in South Africa at the age of 21 and the bulk of his work involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws. Many faced the death sentence.

His work brought him into conflict with the security services and he was subjected to banning order restricting his movements and detained twice without trial for lengthy periods. In 1966 he went into exile and spent 11 years studying and teaching law in England before going to Mozambique for another 11 years as a law professor and legal researcher.
In 1988 he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of an eye.

He returned to South Africa in 1990 as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC and took part in the negotiations which led to the ending of apartheid.

After the first democratic election in 1994 he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court. He also helped select the art collection for the Court building. Justice Sachs has travelled to many countries to share his experience in healing divided societies.                                                                         

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