Access to Justice is WORLDWIDE, even in South Africa

I don’t know what drew me so strongly to this article about South Africa promoting use of indigenous languages in its court system. After all, I have other articles on my Google Alerts. Maybe it was the fact that I can vividly recall the anti-apartheid movement. Maybe it’s because that around my “coming of age” (yes I’m “that” old), apartheid was starting to become an international concern. Then in 1987, I saw a movie with a youngish Denzel Washington, “Cry Freedom,” and it opened my eyes to the POWER that law holds.

It would still be some years before I realized that law held a calling for me personally.

Maybe I was drawn to the stark realization that what I’ve been working on here in the United States, in South Carolina, is also happening in a country plagued by discrimination. True, there are contrasts and differences between the work, but this article, http://www.buanews.gov.za/news/08/08103110151003, indicates that South Africa is working on Limited Language Proficiency or what we know as Limited English Proficiency or LEP to increase ACCESS TO JUSTICE.

This will enable people who can not speak or understand English well to gain equal access to justice, by making it more accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens with particular focus on the poor and vulnerable.

Why this resonates so strongly I can’t really say. All I know is that it does resonate. It resonates strongly.

Maybe it is because of the hope it offers. South Africa is working to make the civil legal system more accessible to ordinary citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable.

If access to justice can succeed in South Africa, it can succeed here. In South Carolina.

Wow.

-RFW

Language Agreement increases Access to Justice in Maine

Individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) have reduced the language barrier in Maine. Today the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an agreement with the Maine judiciary to ensure that LEP individuals seeking services throughout the State’s court system will have access to timely and competent language assistance.

The Maine judicial branch receives federal funding which requires compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the nondiscrimination provisions of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. These two acts together prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or religion by recipients of federal assistance.

For more information visit http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2008/September/08-crt-867.html.

-RFW