Transitional Justice, Domestic Change and the Role of the International Community
Jan Hofmeyr - Restorative Justice in Post-Apartheid South Africa. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Deferred Promise
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Restorative Justice in Post-Apartheid South Africa. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Deferred Promise
The Promotion of the National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 19951 paved the way for the creation of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The Commission was mandated to investigate gross Human Rights violations that were committed with a political motive between 1960 and 1994. Importantly, this mandate extended to both sides of the conflict, namely the apartheid state as well as the liberation movements in instances where it was implicated in such conduct.
With its ultimate objective of creating a new society, premised on national reconciliation as a product of justice, the Commission set out to unearth the truth relating to extreme Human Rights violations that occurred during this period by allowing victims to testify about their experiences. The TRC defined ‘victims’ as direct survivors or relatives or dependents of people who suffered gross Human Rights violations, which included torture, murder, severe ill treatment, abduction, aggravated assault, and detention that resulted from their political affiliations within the circumscribed period.2 As such, victims were defined quite narrowly in terms of exposure to extreme Human Rights violations cases. Those that experienced other apartheid cruelties, such as forced removals, house arrest, prosecution for accessing so-called white amenities, and economic marginalisation on the basis of inferior education or job reservation, were therefore excluded from this understanding of the term ‘victim’.
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