Press statement for immediate release
Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA) is honoured to join the people of South Africa to commemorate this day. HURISA salutes the heroes and herons of the June 16, 1976 for their sacrifices and bravery in helping the country to overcome the repressive and dehumanising apartheid system. It is through their bravery that we are able to be a generation premised on human rights. It is this generation that inspires continuous conversations on the state of education in South Africa. While Freedom of expression, association and assembly were severely restricted in an environment hostile to opposing political views and characterised by surveillance, arbitrary arrests, detentions in communicado and media censorship, we can look back after forty years (40yrs) of the historic events and be proud that the 1976 heroes and herons earned our democracy through an enormous struggle.
There’s has been numerous developments that has taken place to guarantee basic fundamental human rights in South Africa. These include civil political, economic asocial and cultural rights imperatives embodied within regional and international commitments that accompany the Constitutional provisions. However the youth continue to experience difficulties in enjoying the fruit of our democracy. As the country faces political intolerance and economic challenges, they remain on the receiving end of these socio economic difficulties. The levels of youth unemployment is highest including poverty. The opportunity to use their potential as a striving future generation is negatively affected by the lack of access to quality and affordable education, access to health care, they also live in environments that are harmful to their well-being. For example the proliferation of drugs in communities, especially in disadvantaged townships and substance abuse is negatively impacting on the future generation as many young people get entangled in crime syndicates like, drug trafficking, car hijacking, robbery, assaults, rape among others. The situation also leads to high rates of teenage pregnancy which has been described by the Minister of Health as worrying in the way it affects education and development of young girls.
This youth day coincides with other important strides advancing youth development and empowerment, such as the 20th Anniversary of South Africa Constitution, 10th Anniversary of the adoption of the African Youth Charter, the 30th Anniversary of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. These milestone achievements calls for reflection on progress made to improve the lives and livelihoods of the youth in South Africa. The African Youth Charter provides an avenue to address all challenges faced by the Youth nationally and continentally. Although South Africa has developed a national youth policy, the involvement of youth in public participation and decision making remain critical. The African Youth Charter is the only human rights instrument that speaks to youth issues and such requires popularisation and domestication to enhance youth participation in legal, socio political affairs. The education curricular should incorporate provisions of the AYC to assist educators, school governance and communities to the development of the youth. The youth should be capacitated to contribute effectively toward preferring solutions to the problems that affect through the use of the AYC. Law enforcement, judiciary, parliamentarians, traditional and religious leaders should sensitised to be more proactive in ensuring youth inclusivity, participation in various decision making processes.
The role of the private sector is vital in creating employment opportunities, and provide entrepreneurships programme to reduce the high levels of unemployment. The government should continue to engage with likeminded states to secure exchange programmes, scholarships, job opportunities and taking into account of the disadvantaged youth, including people with disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and indigenous populations.
HURISA strengthens the human rights systems at national level and advocates for compliance with regional mechanisms, through a State of the Union Coalition Campaign Project.