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The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: ‘The Truth will Set You Free’

du Plessis, Willemien
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Foblets, Marie-Claire, and Trutz von Trotha, eds., Healing the Wounds: Essays on the Reconstruction of Societies after War. Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing. Pp. 169-200.

As Willemien du Plessis remarks, the statement “The truth will set you free” became a slogan of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Under apartheid, the government enforced an unjust social order and laws; it also committed outright violations of human rights in the imposition of apartheid. After years of struggle and violence, South Africa began to emerge from apartheid into a post-conflict, nation-building period. The TRC was a mechanism or process established to assist the country in dealing with the past and moving forward in the reconstruction of society. Several options lay before the country and the TRC in attempting these tasks. Forgoing Nuremburg-like trials, criminal justice proceedings, or simply wiping away the past, the TRC was directed to pursue both truth and reconciliation. With all of this in mind, du Plessis examines the TRC and its work by discussing the following: the South African Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act; causes and motives of the commitment of human rights violations; the final report and proposals of the TRC; the question of amnesty; and issues concerning restorative justice and reconciliation.


AbstractAfricaCourtsPost-Conflict ReconciliationPrisonsRestorative PracticesRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeStatutes and LegislationTeachers and StudentsVictim Support
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