“In our justice system, there is no right that is considered to be more important than the other,” said Human Rights Lawyer and NRF-rated researcher Dr Ann Skelton at the Faculty of Law’s Centenary Lecture on the Pietermaritzburg campus on September 10.

The lecture was part of a series of lectures to mark the celebration of 100 years of Higher Education in KwaZulu-Natal and the teaching of law since 1910. Dr Skelton examined the juxtaposition between a child’s right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression. 

Dr Skelton graduated with a BA LLB from the University in 1985. She holds an LLD (Doctor of Laws degree) from the University of Pretoria and has worked as a human rights lawyer for the past 20 years. She has specialised as a children’s rights lawyer since 1992.

Dr Skelton said that children’s rights lawyers often find themselves at odds with other human rights lawyers because the issues that they handle can sometimes militate against one another.

However she warned that whilst children’s rights need protection, they should not be used to distort issues or obscure the need to protect other rights. Nevertheless, the primacy of children’s rights in South Africa is praiseworthy. “South Africa has one of the most comprehensive children’s rights section in the world and this is an example of a very good children’s rights clause,” added Dr Skelton.

“Sometimes we have to limit freedoms because of the need to balance rights and take account of the vulnerability of children,” said Dr Skelton. She made an example of the Eugene Terreblanche murder trial, in which one of the accused is a minor, where various media groups have put in an application to be able to sit in on the trial because they say that the matter is in the public interest.

She added that advocates in both camps tend to take a moral high ground position. The advocates for media always emphas
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