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Transitional Amnesty in South Africa


  • Page extent: 420 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.79 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521878296)

After the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa reached out to perpetrators of violence from all conflicting parties by giving amnesty to those who fully disclosed their politically motivated crimes. This 2007 volume provides a comprehensive analysis of South Africa's amnesty scheme in its practical and normative dimensions. Through empirical analysis of over 1000 amnesty decisions made by the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the study measures the scheme against its stated goals of truth recovery, victim empowerment and perpetrator accountability. It also explores normative questions raised by the absence of punishment. Highlighting the distinctive nature of South Africa's conditional amnesty as an exceptional 'rite of passage' into the new, post-conflict society, it argues that the amnesty scheme is best viewed as an attempt to construct a new 'justice script' for a society in transition, in which a legacy of politically motivated violence is being addressed.

• Presents independent statistical data on the amnesty process, enabling comparisons with, and adds importantly to, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's own data • Analyses the success rates of amnesty applications in relation to participation-acts in politically motivated incidents, enabling comparisons between the treatment of different perpetrator groups • Grounds the evaluation of the process in reliable information about the reality of its implementation, thus avoiding misperceptions about normatively significant features of the amnesty scheme


Introduction; 1. The TRC-based amnesty scheme: background and overview; 2. The practice of the committee when making decisions; 3. The committee's interpretation of the political offence requirement; 4. The concept of full disclosure; 5. Truth recovery in the amnesty process; 6. Victim empowerment in the amnesty process; 7. Perpetrator accountability in the amnesty process; 8. Conditional amnesty and international law; 9. Conclusion.

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