Truth and reconciliation committee

. Democracy, a rule of law, where all laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens and allow the active participation of the civilians in politics and civil rights thus ensuring the protection of all essential human rights – due to the history of this nation they were previously abused.

Themes discussed in the extracts that are to follow exhaust the torments that victimized victims and families under the past Apartheid regime. These topics (The problem of Justice ; The problem of reconciliation ; The problem of Democratization) will emphatically manifest the themes of politics and democracy and give reason to the rising of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 1995.

With the elections of 1994 and the rise of a black president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South Africa was a free nation and each and every man no longer lived in fear for the lives of their loved ones and their own, however there was a lack of harmony and reconciliation between families especially between families that were still grieving from loss that was due to the violence that Apartheid bled into the streets. There were many amongst others that carried the burden of death on their backs and aching for forgiveness.

Nelson Mandela saw the TRC as an important milestone when leading the nation towards a path of freedom – the road to democracy. He wanted to unite and shape the nation, but in order to move forward with everyone having a clear conscience and mindset the first step needed to be revaluated. Firstly there was a desire and need to deal with all apartheid related crimes of 1995. Numerous articles continue to praise and define the TRC. It is acknowledged however that the TRC was based on the promotion of National Unity and reconciliation.

The TRC was a legal body that resolved cases of abused human rights and thus concluding to the legal conclusions that were later on publically displayed and heard. Key people that were part of the functioning of the TRC were Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Chairperson) a South African social rights activist and Dr Alex Boraine( Vice Chairperson) The TRC aimed to promote and enhance the psychological healing that had been unstabalised from the horrors of the apartheid regime.

It called for Reconciliation for victims, offenders and individuals, in attempt to plan for the restoration of friendly relations but as well as to understand that although there are no justifications for their crimes, there needs to be forgiveness if we want to work towards a united nation – a nation that many died fighting for. All this was seen as an essential step to get civilians actively involved. SOURCE- 1 As research shows that there is an importance and certain degree of complexity when seeking to overcome silence and denial.

The past Apartheid regime/era scrutinized of violence and abused human rights – thus being able to evidently and publically expose the truth. There are elements of morality and religious faith. Desmond Tutu(Chairperson) whom also began his remarks with a prayer, he had a religious belief – “Every person is a child of god” and this is where the morality of the people who sought forgiveness became evident. The Following committees structured the process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and made the evaluation of each and every perpetrator a scrutinized and detailed process.

Their request for Amnesty was adhered to, but this wasn’t the same for most perpetrators – majority of them were prosecuted as reasoning for their actions came without legitimate validations. The TRC composed of 3 committees, namely The Human Rights Violations committee (HRV), Reparations and Rehabilitation committee(R&R) and the Amnesty committee(AC). Human Rights Violations (HRV) – chairperson Desmond Tutu and Vice Chairperson shared between Yasmin Sooka and Wynand Malan.

The main task of this committee was to profoundly investigate the human rights abuses (1960-1994), these truth of these abuses exposed and admitted by statements disclosed at the TRC ( via public hearings- a lot more emotional). This committee was useful in the sense that it disclosed the identities of the victims of the perpetrators and revealed their fate and whereabouts (alive or buried) and to the horror of many, it revealed the extent to which the victims had been abused and had suffered.

The most helpful tool of this committee was that it exposed whether the violations against human rights was politically motivated or was by deliberate planning (and actions were taken into their own hands) or without any valid justification. Once victims had been identified they had been directed towards the Reparation and Rehabilitation committee. Reparation and Rehabilitation committee provided victims that had their human rights violated and abused with support, ensuring that they were the able to have their stained and stripped dignity restored.

For those victims that had suffered enough and resulted in being deceased were acknowledged and recommendations were formulated for rehabilitation – thus being able to heal survivors, their families and communities. The reason recommendations were formulated was that to ensure that the horrors of the past were sure not to be repeated. To also heal the open wounds that refused to heal because of the absence of loved ones and lastly to mend and formulate healthy sustainable relationships.

The presidents fund, funded by the parliament and other pertaining contributions was established to pay the necessary reparations, thus this fund could be viewed as a fund to compensate victims. The Amnesty Committee – function was to take into consideration all the applications that were requesting amnesty (all according to the provisions stated in the Act). Full disclosure was required and reasoning had to be justified and legitimate. If amnesty was granted (which seldom occurred) then perpetrators were exempt from prosecution.

Numerous applications were applied for faults of the past and shameful stunts performed on the innocent via influence of political means and objectives (1960-1993). The final date was in the year 1997 after there had been an extension to 1994. (SOURCE 2) The problem of justice – Verdicts are required as finalised details were required to conclude whether perpetrators of human rights abuses were to be punished and to establish justifiable reasoning to the matters at hand.

however In the eyes of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee justice was that perpetrators were to voice the ambitious truth and were examined and their freedom (amnesty) was considered. This committee didn’t aim to punish – commissions like the sought to see past the faults and sought to look towards the reasoning of their actions and to expose them to the families of the victims of their past. Transitional justice, Restorative justice and Retroactive justice – all of which acquire means to see the truth and divert from Retributive justice.

There is a means to the TRC, most importantly it was to investigate with the aspect of scrutiny as well as to report on the abuses of the past human rights. To expose the systematic pattern that lead to many deaths. As well as to understand the reason behind the faults that lead to inappropriate treatment and violations of human rights. Martha Minow’s phrase from 1998 “Somewhere in the morally, politically and emotionally fraught continuum between vengeance and forgiveness”.

Caught between the choices of vengeance and forgiveness, one of which is common. Vengeance is aroused in the mind of any normal human being stained with loss, loss that is caused by the hands of another human being who had no right to take that life. The problem of truth – truth, a key theme word that tackles between justice, forgiveness and vengeance. It is both problematic and not easily received, especially without justification and reasoning for actions that were committed so blindly.

It is a word that leads the confused to extreme measures of unveiling. In this scenario it overwhelms victims and families of victims with the evidence that they have yearned to obtained. Admitting their faults and expressing their deepest and sincere regrets could be beneficial – especially when in request for amnesty. For some families seeking knowledge of their deceased member and then finding out that perpetrator is dead becomes problematic and the demand for justice is never fulfilled and reconciliation becomes an unobtainable factor.

Versions of the truth are manipulations of the factual truth made only this way to satisfy the demands of the victim families who may appear as a threat – but if it is amnesty that perpetrators insist on obtaining as it acts as an incentive that will uplift a burden of guilt, then they should tell the version of the truth that “really happened”. This then becomes the morality of the factual and historical truth that will heal and give way to a sense of established forgiveness. There is a mention in the research regarding the TRC that reveals that “the spoken truth is ventured to create an indelible memory”.

Most importantly the personal truth is spoken via public testimony, this is done to seek insurance that the actions of the perpetrators were forced and were given by those in authority especially by means of the oppressor -this should be taken into consideration and not forgotten or ignored. There is also truth behind the Apartheid security forces, the belief that their means of action and forced authority was to fight against communism under extreme emergency conditions that demanded extreme measures that were required to be put into place – especially to protect what they “believed in” .

This would maybe justify their actions as they were also under oath. Desmond Tutu exclaims that ” Freedom was exchanged for truth” and this is primarily one of the reasons granting of amnesty becomes an aspect for the functioning of the TRC. The truth is beneficial in the sense that is allows the promotion of psychological healing – gaining knowledge of the deceased dumping/burial site allows the process of grieving to take its toll and pass smoothly. Families now give a decent burial for their deceased member. This process will heal them mentally and therefore psychologically.

SOURCE – 3 The problem of Reconciliation – The price of obtaining reconciliation is explained and compared to the purchase of peace. Desmond Tutu also mentions that “This justice, Restorative justice becomes and illustrates a fundamental base of healing and fixing the leaks in social relationships. ” By abiding especially to the theme of Ubuntu the TRC was highly able to improve the quality of human structure in the society that we live in as well as to overcome the vengeance that would become a toxic and extreme expense to the democracy that we working towards.

By his words Desmond Tutu proclaims that ” Restorative justice reflects a fundamental and vulnerable African value of healing. ” Many question and truly consider Restorative justice. The dictionary explains Restorative justice as a system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large. Many people would request to see its connection to peace and reconciliation – which is an urgent piece of the puzzle of democracy, its role could actually lead to reconciliation.

The biggest role of reconciliation is played by the perpetrators and the contribution they make by coming forth and admitting their faults that the TRC and other committees gain knowledge of. SOURCE -4 The second role comes from the victims and their families, their will power to accept the wrongdoings of others done unto them and their forgiveness becomes the last piece towards reconciliation and their healing process. The theme of morals and religious aspects are present here yet again – the religious belief that God says that we should forgive those who have wronged us and not take on an act of vengeance.

The theme of morality because of the contribution perpetrators make to this process of reconciliation The Truth and Reconciliation Committee can be criticised in the sense that its reconciliation process often appeared to have lost clarity, whether it truly was adequate towards bringing the South African nation to terms with its abused past, and failing to see individual suffering as it appeared to have not been and rather just collectivising it. The following sentence is derived from a statement by T.

Wilson (1997) “That the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee has approached reconciliation at a collective level but this however came at an expense of individual psychological healing. ” The problem of Democratization – Because of the conflict, terror and widespread violence brought means to the TRC, the South African government wanted to heal the unhealed wounds of the past horrific political experience that is now in transition towards democracy.

Looking at the past, the only way to psychologically and wholly heal the nation of the past and to ensure that the road to democracy was done on a clean slate, the government saw the TRC as a necessary fundamental base, thus ensuring that democracy will sought on towards success. Concerned South Africans believed that the road to democracy shouldn’t have fully meant granting amnesty to perpetrators. they criticized it.

They believed that without the right means of punishment there will be no disincentive or authorities that will yield perpetrators from exercising similar inhuman violations in the future. The secondly believe that accountability should play a role for justice and that accountability was a necessary prerequisite that would result in the road to democracy in being a successful one, otherwise the new democratic foundations will have a weak base (including democratic institutions)for the new laws that will govern.

To conclude on the events and operations of the TRC which were in an open and exposed manner, the TRC showed that the purpose and function of this committee made progress through the healing process and reconciliation from forgiveness and the expense that came from this too was the amount of reparations owed to the declared victims. The government needing to fulfil obligations to compensate for the many lives of the victims thus meeting his responsibility. ( SOURCE 5 ;6 ; 7).

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