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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
July 2009
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Criminology, Law, Criminal Law, Sociology

Book description

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.


"More - much more - than any prior effort to date, Professor Du Bois-Pedain has taken the closest, most detailed, and most comprehensive look at the amnesty component of South Africa's truth and reconciliation process. Her book is a tour de force, encompassing as it does both normative and empirical issues associated with the process. Generations to come will thank Du Bois-Pedain for her exposition of how and why South Africa provided amnesty to those committing gross human rights violations during the struggle over apartheid."
-James L. Gibson, Law and Politics Book Review

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