Source: (1999) Paper presented at the "TRC: Commissioning the Past" conference, organized by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) and the History Workshop (at Wits University). University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, 11-14 June 1999. Downloaded 10 March 2004.

As Leigh Payne notes, truth-telling has become a widespread means of settling accounts with past repressive regimes. Within a variety of forms - from government-mandated truth commissions to NGO-sponsored historical memory projects to individual testimonials - victims of repression have broken the silence imposed on them by authoritarian regimes. However, many difficult practical and moral issues exist in such processes. In this vein, Payne explores a very complex and difficult issue for truth-telling as a way to deal with past injustice: namely, confessions by those who have tortured others. Payne discusses the logic behind including torturers' confessions in truth and reconciliation processes, critiques that logic, and then proposes conditions under which such confessions might advance truth and reconciliation despite inherent moral ambiguity in the process. To illustrate all of this, examples from four Argentine confessions are included.

Read Full Article