2 Hum. Rts. 125 (1972)
South Africa Today: The Security of the State vs. The Liberty of the Individual

handle is hein.journals/huri2 and id is 131 raw text is: South Africa Today:
The Security of
the State
The Liberty of
the Individual  12

Joel Carlson*

On the night of April 6, 1971, Joel Carlson was
driven to Jan Smuts Airport in Johannesburg,
South Africa where he booked passage on a
flight to London that was to leave in 20 minutes.
An immigration official examined the British
passport Carlson presented and told him he
hoped he had enjoyed his sojourn in South
Africa. It was quite a sojourn: it included seven-
teen years of civil rights litigation; countless
nights fraught with anxiety for his clients many
of whom faced capital punishment; and then
there were the midnight phone calls, the
smears, the bombing of his home, the destruc-
tion of his car by gunfire and the government's
summary seizure of his South African passport.
It was over now. He had renounced his South
African citizenship and was leaving the land of
his birth. It was a land that he loved, but one
which had as little tolerance for civil rights law-
yers as Carlson had for the injustice and official
violence around which he saw South African so-
ciety organized.
Carlson was born in Johannesburg in 1926 and
took his degree in law at the University of
Witwatersrand. His first legal position was as a
clerk in the Bantu Commissioner's Court where
blacks are prosecuted for violations of the Pass
Laws. Carlson was touched, stunned, and out-
raged by the degradation of blacks--and of
South African society as a whole-which he
saw in the administration of the Pass Laws. So
he left the court, established a private practice
and began a career dedicated to upholding fun-
damental human rights in a legal system which
permitted their steady erosion.
In 1959, Carlson exposed a forced labor system
under which blacks were arrested and then in-
duced to volunteer for work on the farms under
slave labor conditions. The government denied
the existence of the system. Twenty-four habeas

*Senior Fellow, Center for
International Studies, New
York University; Attorney of
the Supreme Court of South
Africa; Member of the
Committee of the International
Commission of Jurists.
**By Peter J. Connell,
Executive Director,
Washington, D.C. Office of The
Lawyers' Committee for Civil
Rights Under Law.


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