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Thread: Professors Richard (Dick) Christie and Dennis Robinson

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    Professors Richard (Dick) Christie and Dennis Robinson

    Today I want to honour these two great Zimbabweans who headed the Law Faculty of the University in my country of birth, Zimbabwe.
    The starting point is to recognize that, after two (2) World Wars and the Holocaust, the World signed off on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) in 1948, except for then South Africa, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
    The UDHR gave mankind the sacred concept of there being “Human Rights” for the first time. It was only then that the dogma of all of us being “EQUAL” was adopted.

    These concepts were entrenched as being unalienable and fundamental … to replace the previous universal culture of dominance and “might is right” that had spawned much evil, including slavery.

    This proposition that “all are equal” is both fundamental and resolutive. Its implications include: –
    a) the law confers equal rights on every human, being whatever their race, ethnicity, tribe …
    b) and conversely no person can be disadvantaged on account of such differences …
    c) laws much be such as to enable humans the right and power to enforce their rights and seek redress for infringement of such rights …
    d) by full seamless access to Courts and tribunals that are truly independent and empowered to enforce human rights and force redress
    e) with even the lowliest of subjects able to challenge even the President of the country as an equal on any issue
    f) and the judgments and orders of the independent Courts fully enforceable.

    However, let us all agree that these noble aspirations of law are meaningless, wholly or in part, if ordinary human beings are unable to enforce them. They become a cruel joke if the administration of justice does not guarantee that these rights are enforceable by even the poorest of the poor.

    Justice must not be a commodity that is directly accessible in proportion to one’s means.
    Justice cannot be available only to the highest bidder.
    Again, let us all agree that currently, in this region, justice is all too often a matter of only being available to the highest bidder. The gap between rich and poor, in this region, is just about the highest in the free world.
    The legal profession locates within the rich sector and charges accordingly.
    Most humans in this region cannot afford a lawyer.
    It is that simple.

    Professors Christie and Robins were moved to something about this. They set up a “Legal Aid Clinic”. I am so proud to have been involved.
    We secured sponsored premises in Jameson Avenue (now Samora Machel Ave) in Salisbury (now Harare).
    Just about all lawyers and Advocates signed up. We put them on a roster.
    Poor people came to the clinic.

    If they did not have means, and had a case, we allocated a law firm from the roster to act for that person free of charge.
    If the other side had an Advocate, we allocated an Advocate to our client.
    The reason why it was called a “Legal Aid Clinic” was because law students were involved from start to finish.
    In this way law students became schooled in the practice of law and justice under supervision, mentorship and tutorship of experienced legal practitioners at every level.
    We scored some very impressive victories on behalf of those who would have otherwise been denied justice.
    I put this to Namibia, via a publication in "The Patriot" of that country. Apparently it has done nothing about this.
    I am now putting it to South Africa.

    There is no good reason why this model should not be adopted and implemented in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia … NO GOOD REASON WHATSOEVER!
    We should actually be ashamed ... ashamed that justice is denied the poor as a matter of routine.
    How can we crow about our “World-beating Constitution” when its sacred provisions are out of reach for most?.
    We need to STOP being HYPOCRITICAL.
    We do have a serious problem of justice being denied to so many because they are poor.
    Denying it is crass hypocrisy … ignoring it is just as bad.

    So can we now PLEASE embrace the Christie/Robinson model of equality under the law?
    PLEASE!!!
    I am astounded that the so-called Human Rights Commission simply ignores this fundamental defect in our system.
    But, in truth, I am not at all surprised.

    So PLEASE bombard the HRC with this?
    Let us have the conversation!
    Blog: http://coginito.blogspot.com Cognito ergo sum

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    Dave A (20-Jun-18)

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    Do we not have a legal aid system in South Africa already?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Do we not have a legal aid system in South Africa already?
    Yes we do indeed.
    However, as a Judge, I have had the first-hand experience of these and they do not compare with the Christie/Robinson model, starting with the fact that poor folk usually end up being represented by inexperienced pratitioners.
    With the Christie/Robinson model representation is always matched to the "enormity or otherwise" of case being taken on.
    Let us have the conversation!
    Blog: http://coginito.blogspot.com Cognito ergo sum

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