Expanding the protection and reach of the law and strengthening civil society

Access to justice seeks to realise a number of rights afforded to all people in South Africa; including the right to access courts, access to information and the right to just administrative action. Access to these rights is vital in order to overcome the barriers that cause and entrench marginalisation and structural inequality.

Through legislation and policy development, the South African government has taken some steps towards ensuring that these rights are made a reality for all South Africans. But there is other legislation that, in practice, often acts as a barrier to accessing rights.

Many people, especially the most vulnerable, are unaware of their rights or are unable to access legal support and representation to assert these rights.

The LRC seeks to facilitate access to justice for vulnerable and marginalised people; particularly for those living in remote areas that have been historically under-resourced. Our goal is to support communities to access justice when, for instance, there are insufficient social services or when their access to healthcare, safe working conditions and consumer protection is inadequate.

A thriving civil society is an essential component of any democracy. Civil society plays a critical role in building participatory democracy, promoting a culture of respect for human rights and facilitating socio-economic development for millions of poor and disadvantaged people.

Organisations and individuals that comprise of civil society must be bolstered and supported and any attempt to undermine the diversity and independence of civil society needs to be opposed.

Through the medium of non-profit organisations (NPOs), the government is able to implement programmes that are vital to the development and well-being of the most marginalised communities. NPOs also play an important role in facilitating consultation with larger communities and enabling an expansion of participation in decision-making that various policies and legislation seek to promote.

The LRC recognises that NPOs have to comply with various legislative and administrative demands. We assist a number of these organisations to meet their legal requirements. At the same time, the LRC also seeks to promote good governance and accountability within the non-profit sector.

Within the global human rights field, we believe that a stronger civil society voice is imperative; especially from the Global South. The LRC participates alongside other rights-based organisations to strengthen the realisation rights and accountability at the regional and international level. As such, LRC forms part of a number of international networks and coalitions.