"This dissertation seeks firstly to re-examine the merits of the competing philosophies on the role of amnesties in transitional justice. It seeks in particular to investigate the currently popular notion that justice is necessarily retributive and even beyond that, to determine the veracity of the claim that prosecution represents a necessary element of retributivist justice. The objective is to contribute to the ongoing debate by examining and drawing practical lessons from the case of South Africa, which emerged in 1994 from several generations of institutionalised gross violatoins of human rights. Accordingly the Amnesty Committee of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the law and the political philosophy undergirding its functions represent the focus of this study. ... This dissertation unfolds into five parts. Chapter 1, as an introduction to the rest of the work, sets out the relevance of the subject under review, the methodology and a brief overview of the chapters. Chapter two reviews the extensive literature on transitional justice and discusses the concepts that may be distilled therefrom. It discusses the contextual determinants of models of transitional justice and sets out the essence of the debate between vengeance and forgiveness as tools for achieving transitional justice. It also discusses the development of international law with respect to the permissiveness of amnesties and both the articulated and other justifications for their use. The burden of the third chapter is to first recount the factual circumstances of South Africa's trnsition and the factors that predicated the promulgation of the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995. It then briefly examines the provisions of the statute and it's implementation. It also engages in an empirical assessment of the almost 800 amnesties granted and employs a number of indices to determine whteher the process was even handed and achieved its objectives. These indices are: the politicl affiliations of the awardees; whether or not the crimes for which they received amnesty involved the loss of life; whether or not they had already been punished for thier transgressions and; whether or not they received forgiveness from the vicitms - actual or constructive. Chapter four focuses on some fo the criticisms that the TRC received. It assesses their merits and determines to what extent they subverted the quest for justice in transitional South Africa. In particular it looks at the reasoning of the Constitutional Court in the AZAPO Case, the alleged lack of objectivity of the TRC, its almost exclusively Christian orientation and its almost exclusive focus on abuses of civil and political rights. Chapter five concludes the dissertation by first determining whether or not there are any lessons to be learnt from South Africa's amnesty experience. It then outlines what the lessons are or should be. It closes by making recommendations as to what factors or particular considerations should guide the efforts and aspirations of abused societies that embark on the quest for transitional justice." -- Chapter 1.
Prepared under the supervision of Professor Frans Viljoen, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Thesis (LLM (Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa)) -- University of Pretoria, 2001.