Albert Sachs

  • Freedom Fighter Against Apartheid
  • Judge, Constitutional Court of South Africa (Ret.) 1994- 2009

Internationally acclaimed Freedom Fighter and Champion of Human Rights regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation,  A pillar of the international law community, Albie Sachs has helped shape our modern world, both in South Africa and around the world. 

 
  

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Rave Reviews About Albert Sachs
I can’t begin to thank you for your contributions to the recent ALA conference. Not only was your keynote presentation an absolute highlight of the conference (and commented on as such by so many people I’ve spoken to), but your presence at other sessions ... was positively exhilarating. Your energy and generosity of spirit are totally remarkable.

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Albert Sachs
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • College of Charleston
Albie Sachs Addresses What It Means to Be a Refugee - Get Sharable Link
Albie Sachs Addresses What It Means to Be a Refugee
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A Tribute to Sachs: A Lifetime of Justice & Reconciliation
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Explore Albert Sachs 's Talks
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The Triumph of Humanity and Social Justice

Albie Sachs speaks around the world sharing the South African experience of healing a divided society.He talks of his earliest experience, being born to a Jewish family who fled Lithuania and the Tsar’s discrimination.He tells the story of his career as a human rights activist and his particip ...

Albie Sachs speaks around the world sharing the South African experience of healing a divided society. He talks of his earliest experience, being born to a Jewish family who fled Lithuania and the Tsar’s discrimination. He tells the story of his career as a human rights activist and his participation in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign and the Congress of the People at Kliptown  which paved the way for his eventual career in the law and his appointment in 1994 to the Constitutional Court of South Africa by Nelson Mandela. 

He talks about his role in the establishment of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the development of Soft Vengeance, focusing on the power of restorative rather than punitive justice.

The Constitutional Court of South Africa: Art and Justice/Light on a Hill

A well known figure in the field of public art and architecture, Albie Sachs features a screening of the film: The Constitutional Court of South Africa: Art and Justice/Light on a Hill, (35 min.) and follows up with a talk and Q and Afocusing onconstruction of the Constitutional Court in the heart o ...

A well known figure in the field of public art and architecture, Albie Sachs features a screening of the film: "The Constitutional Court of South Africa: Art and Justice/Light on a Hill," (35 min.) and follows up with a talk and Q and A focusing on construction of the Constitutional Court in the heart of the prison where both Gandhi and Mandela were jailed.

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Biography

On turning six, during World War II, Albie Sachs received a card from his father expressing the wish that he would grow up to be a soldier in the fight for liberation.

His career in human rights activism started at the age of seventeen, when as a second year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Three years later he attended the Congress of the People at Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was adopted. He started practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar aged 21. The bulk of his work involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws. Many faced the death sentence. He himself was raided by the security police, subjected to banning orders restricting his movement and eventually placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention.

In 1966 he went into exile. After spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England he worked for a further eleven years in Mozambique as law professor and legal researcher. In 1988 he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of an eye.

During the 1980s working closely with Oliver Tambo, leader of the ANC in exile, he helped draft the organisation's Code of Conduct, as well as its statutes. After recovering from the bomb he devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990 he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994 he was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court.

In addition to his work on the Court, he has travelled to many countries sharing South African experience in healing divided societies. He has also been engaged in the sphere of art and architecture, and played an active role in the development of the Constitutional Court building and its art collection on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg.

 

 

ALBIE SACHS - SOME ADDITIONAL FACTS:

 

Academic Degrees:

BA and LLB,   University of Cape Town (1951 - 1953; 1955-1956)

PHD, University of Sussex (1971) 

 

Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of :

  • Aberdeen
  • Antwerp
  • Cape Town
  • Cambridge
  • Columbia
  • Dundee
  • Edinburgh
  • London
  • New South Wales
  • Princeton
  • Southampton
  • Southern California
  • Strathclyde
  • Sussex
  • Ulster
  • Universidade Politécnica - Maputo
  • York (Ontario)
  • York (UK)
  • Wayne State University
  • Western Cape
  • William Mitchell College of Law
  • Witwatersrand

 

Books published include:

  • The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs (Collins)
  • Stephanie on Trial (Harvil Press)

The above two books were dramatized by David Edgar for the Royal Shakespeare Company and filmed for the BBC.

  • Justice in South Africa (Heineman, Sussex University Press and University of California Press)
  • Sexism and the Law (Free Press)
  • Liberating the Law, Liberating the People (with Gita Honwana Welch) (Zed Press)
  • Island in Chains (with Indres Naidoo) (Penguin Books and Random House)
  • The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter (Harper-Collins; University of California Press)
  • Protecting Human Rights in a new South Africa (Oxford University Press)
  • Advancing Human Rights in South Africa (Oxford University Press)
  • The Free Diary of Albie Sachs (with Vanessa September) (Random House)
  • The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law (Oxford University Press) – winner of the Alan Paton Prize 2010
  • We, the People. Insights of an Activist Judge (Wits University Press)

Honorary Bencher of Lincolns Inn

Member of the Appeals Commission of the International Cricket Council

Head of the Panel that chose the design for the logo for the 2010 Soccer World Cup

Awarded the Order of Luthuli in Silver by the President of the RSA for excellent and selfless dedication to human rights activism and the struggle against apartheid  - 2006

15-year term on the Constitutional Court ended on 11 October 2009

Recipient of the Reconciliation Award from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation-  2010

Recipient of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal  - 2010

Recipient of the First Tang Prize in Rule of Law - 2014