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Truth v. justice: The morality of truth commissions.

Thompson, Dennis
June 4, 2015

Source: (2000) Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

For societies emerging from an oppressive and a violent past to a more democratic political order, it has become relatively common to deal with traumatic conditions and wrongs of that past through some form of truth commission. Various frameworks – consisting of philosophical, moral, cultural, and political perspectives – may differently shape the processes and purposes of particular commissions. Generally, however, truth commissions invoke a restorative vision. In the interests of healing society, they seek to acknowledge the trauma of the past while not pursuing strict political or legal retribution against those responsible for oppression and violence. At the same time that truth commissions are becoming fairly common in transitional societies, many are examining them to highlight their strengths and weaknesses, their successes and failures, in bringing the past into public view while trying to move society toward a more just and peaceful future. This book presents studies by a number of people into issues connected with the foundations, aims, and operations of truth commissions in general: truth; morality; justice; due process; amnesty; accountability; reconciliation; and healing. Particular attention is paid to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Contributors to the book include academicians as well as participants in the South African TRC.


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