UCT alum Justice Albie Sachs honoured by the Clooney Foundation for Justice

13 May 2022 | Story Victoria O'Regan. Read time 4 min.
Justice Albie Sachs. <b>Photo</b> UCT News.
Justice Albie Sachs. Photo UCT News.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice has named its inaugural awards, which will be held on 29 September at the New York Public Library, after South Africa’s Justice Albie Sachs, who is also a University of Cape Town (UCT) alum. On the night he will also receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in Pursuit of Justice.

The Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), founded by Amal and George Clooney, has announced its inaugural awards ceremony in line with the foundation’s vision to highlight brave justice activism in a number of sectors across the globe.

The Albie Awards, named in honour of Justice Albie Sachs, who is revered for his heroic commitment to ending apartheid, will take place in New York later in 2022.

Not only has the CFJ named the awards after Sachs, but it will also present a Lifetime Achievement Award in Pursuit of Justice to him at the event.

September and Sachs are married
Vanessa September, Amal Clooney, Albie Sachs and George Clooney. September and Sachs are married. Photo Supplied.

Albert “Albie” Louis Sachs is a South African activist, lawyer, writer and former judge who was appointed by President Nelson Mandela in 1994 to serve on the first Constitutional Court of South Africa. In this position, Sachs helped write the post-apartheid Constitution of 1996. His 15-year term at the court ended in 2009.

Sachs’s career in human rights activism began in 1952 when he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign while studying law at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He began his practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar at the age of 21, and much of his work involved defending people who had been charged under apartheid’s racist and oppressive statutes.

As a result of his anti-apartheid activities he was raided by the security police, subject to orders restricting his movement and put in solitary confinement for 168 days without trial. After being detained twice he went into exile in 1966 and was later the victim of a car bombing executed by the South African security services, in which he lost his right arm and vision in one eye.

George Clooney
George Clooney arrives for the Tastemaker Screening of Amazon Studios ‘The Tender Bar’ at the Directors Guild of America in West Hollywood, California on 3 October 2021. Photo EPA-EFE / Nina Prommer.

“I take huge pleasure in working with Amal and George Clooney, and getting to understand and appreciate their deep feeling for justice. I delight in their imaginative, creative ways of doing things and connecting with people,” said Sachs.

“I am a living survivor of a generation of South African lawyers like Griffiths Mxenge and Bram Fischer, who gave their lives for freedom and justice. I will be thinking of them when I receive this wonderful award alongside the other remarkable people and organisations.”

Journalists recognised

Other recipients at the “Albie:” will be Nobel Prize-winning Filipino journalist Maria Ressa who will receive the Justice for Journalists Award; iACT, a groundbreaking international organisation that works alongside survivors of genocide and other mass atrocities, will receive the Justice for Survivors Award; Viasna, a human rights group that has been a voice of resistance in Belarus for nearly 30 years as it has led a brave campaign for freedom and democracy against President Lukashenko’s regime, will receive the Justice for Democracy Defenders award; and Dr Josephine Kulea, the Kenyan women’s rights campaigner and founder of the Samburu Girls Foundation that helps to rescue girls from child marriage, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices, will be honoured with the Justice for Women Award.

The awards, hosted by George and Amal Clooney and Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, will take place on 29 September at the New York Public Library, with some of the biggest names in international human rights, philanthropy, law, business and entertainment in attendance. It will include powerful stories about the foundation’s work fighting for survivors of human rights abuses.

This article first appeared in Daily Maverick.

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