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A South African Experiment in Justice

Villa-Vicencio, Charles
June 4, 2015

Source: (1999) Paper Presented at the All-Africa Conference on African Principles of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8-12th November 1999. Downloaded 18 May 2004.

This is an edited version of a paper presented by Charles Villa-Vincencio at the All-Africa Conference on African Principles of Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in 1999. Villa-Vincencio – professor of religion and society at the University of Cape Town, and former director of research for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) – characterizes the transition in South Africa from apartheid to post-apartheid as an experiment in justice. The transition came through a negotiated settlement, not through victory on the field or collapse of the former regime. Parties to the negotiation considered three options for dealing with human rights violations during apartheid: general amnesty; trials and prosecutions; or a truth commission. Villa-Vincencio discusses the decision in favor of a truth commission, the identity and focus of the commission, and questions about future prosecutions (for those who did not participate in the commission’s process) and about reparation for victims of human rights violations.


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