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A Critique Of The Truth And Reconciliation In South Africa

3284 words - 14 pages

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was an independent legal body which was established after the abolition of apartheid in order to assist South Africa’s society to achieve a peaceful transition. Based on the two main concepts of healing and forgiveness, the TRC accomplished its goal by three committees: The Human Rights Violations Committee, The Reparation and Rehabilitation Committee and The Amnesty Committee. The participants who were identified as the victims of racial injustice and gross human rights violations would speak of their miserable experiences in the public hearing and be heard with dignity; the perpetrators of violations could apply for amnesty which would be granted by passing the testimony and the public hearing. Apparently, the public hearings provided the victims with the opportunities to release their tortured memories of the past and smooth their hatred for the dark history; the amnesty would give impunity to and forgiveness for the perpetrators who were manipulated by political motives. For years, the TRC has been seen as the most effective and successful justice which healed the hatred within South African people and encouraged them to move forward. Many scholars and politicians believe that the TRC established the peaceful foundation for the future development of South Africa. However, when we read cases such as that of a mother who recalled the memory of the death of her own son, and who might watch the killer of her son walk freely outside, how could we affirm that the TRC only contributed to positive effects on South African people? Thus, this paper will base on the pursuit of the question: What criticisms have been made of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa?
As the first president of the new South Africa, Nelson Mandela was specifically concerned with conciliating the most dangerous minority and healing the wounds of the bloody history of apartheid. (Thompson pp. 274) After the negotiations with the National Party, Mandela and de Klerk finally reached the compromise of the power sharing and agreed that a commission should be focused on bringing out the truth and granting amnesties to individuals. Thus, the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa was the foundation of South Africa to building a united nation. (Thompson pp. 274). However, several scholars also questioned whether the TRC process achieved its mission of reconciliation. (Krog pp. 384)
Based on the research, the main criticisms were embedded in the concern of whether the TRC successfully achieves the goal of healing and conciliation among individual South African people. Therefore, the criticisms of the TRC included that the public hearings of gross human rights violations failed to reach the goals of healing individual victims and placed pressure on the victims to forgive perpetrators; the amnesty process protected the perpetrators but failed to be accepted by individual victims of gross human...

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