PRESS RELEASEHUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATION STRESSES NEED FOR LAW TO ADVANCE INHERENT HUMAN DIGNITY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES - 5 JULY 2021
PRESS RELEASE BY CAUSE FOR JUSTICE: 5 JULY 2021
* FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATION STRESSES NEED FOR LAW TO ADVANCE INHERENT HUMAN DIGNITY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
The South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) has embarked on the process of domesticating the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Despite having ratified both the UNCRPD and its Optional Protocol, the South African government to date has not incorporated its provisions into local law.
The purpose of the UNCRPD is to:
“promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity”. 
The Constitutional Court has emphasised that the “importance of dignity as a founding value of the new Constitution cannot be overemphasised”.  According to former Constitutional Court justice, Laurie Ackermann, in the context of the Constitution, ‘dignity’ means ‘inherent human worth’.  The UNCRPD regards “discrimination against any person on the basis of disability [as] a violation of the inherent dignity and worth of the human person”. 
Human rights organisation, Cause For Justice (CFJ), delivered written submissions to the SALRC, focusing on advancing the constitutional values of, and rights to, human dignity and life of persons with disabilities in the context of selective abortion and euthanasia. According to UN human rights experts “disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly”.
CFJ implored the SALRC to ensure that the domestication of the UNCRPD explicitly reflects that persons with disabilities have inherent dignity and equal worth with any other member of the human family – both before and after birth. According to CFJ, this would mean:
In respect of selective abortion, thoroughly investigating the implications of the advancement of the constitutional value of human dignity and life for the protection of unborn babies with disabilities.
In respect of euthanasia, ensuring the constitutional rights to life and human dignity of persons with disabilities are protected from irreversible violation.
In the context of euthanasia, UN human rights experts have recently “expressed alarm at a growing trend to enact legislation enabling access to medically assisted dying based largely on having a disability or disabling conditions”, which is indicative of “ableist assumptions about the inherent ‘quality of life’ or ‘worth’ of the life of a person with a disability”.
The South African constitution recognises and values the intrinsic worth of human beings – their inherent human dignity; it also recognises that human dignity and human life are intertwined – practically inseparable. 
Cause For Justice is committed to ensuring that South African law advances the foundational constitutional values of human dignity and life, and protects and promotes the full and equal enjoyment of constitutional rights and freedoms by persons with disabilities.
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For further queries, contact CFJ at:
Tel: 074 355 0775
 Article 1 of the UNCRPD.
 S v Makwanyane and Another (CCT3/94)  ZACC 3 at .
 L Ackermann ‘Human Dignity: Lodestar for Equality in South Africa’ 2012 (Juta) at p 98.
 Clause (h) of the Preamble of the UNCRPD.
 S v Makwanyane and Another at .