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Reconciliation through Amnesty? Amnesty Applicants’ Views of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Abrahamsen, Therese
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. Downloaded 2 December 2005.

While much has been written about the TRC’s amnesty process, this study seeks to address a serious gap in the research. Through an empirical evaluation of the perpetrators’ own experiences of the amnesty process, this study addresses the need for a better understanding of how the amnesty process worked in practice, how it managed to draw perpetrators into applying for amnesty, how they felt about the process, how their lives were affected by the amnesty process, and whether and to what
extent a public, conditional amnesty process served as a vehicle for achieving reconciliation between former perpetrators and survivors of gross human rights abuse and the reintegration of perpetrators into society. In order to complement this insider perspective of the amnesty process, this study also draws from interviews with former TRC staff and lawyers who were involved in every step of the amnesty process; from assisting applicants with their applications to representing them during the hearings. The aim of this report is both to inform further intervention with ex-combatants in South Africa, and to provide some insights that may guide other international efforts to engage perpetrators of human rights abuses in conditional amnesties, truth seeking, restorative justice and reconciliation processes.(excerpt)


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