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To punish or to restore? Justice and the TRC

Allen, Jonathan
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Paper presented Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. San Francisco, California, 30 August – 2 September.

Allen examines the problem of the appropriate response to the suffering of victims of state-sponsored or politically motivated violence. To explore this problem, he discusses the role of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in response to the injustice and violence experienced during the years of apartheid. Specific issues in this paper include the following: the question of conditional amnesty as moral compromise or as transitional justice; restorative justice and the TRC’s approach to dealing with past injustice and violence; and retributivist theory and recognizing or acknowledging the experience of injustice and violence.


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