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Overview of the Reparations Program in South Africa

Colvin, Christopher J.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In Pablo De Greiff, ed., The Handbook of Reparations. Oxford, New York, USA: Oxford University Press. Pp. 176-214.

“This chapter explores the reparations debate in post-apartheid South Africa and outlines the recommendations for reparations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Although reparations were discussed at the multiparty negotiations at the end of apartheid, the new democratic constitution that came out of those negotiations did not provide for reparations. The legislation that created the TRC, however, established a special committee (the Committee on Reparations and Rehabilitation (CRR)) to formally examine the reparations issue and make policy recommendations to the President. The CRR made its recommendations — widely considered to be one of the world’s most ambitious and comprehensive reparations policies — in the TRC’s 1998 Report. The South African government, however, did not respond to these recommendations, arguing that since the work of other committees within the TRC was not yet finished, it could not consider the CRR’s proposed policy. Victim groups and civil society did not agree, and an acrimonious conflict ensued over the perceived slow pace of government action on reparations. Victims also pursued lawsuits for reparations against multinational corporations that conducted business with the apartheid government. In 2003, the government finally enacted a reduced version of the CRR’s original reparatons policy.” (excerpt)


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