Transitional Justice in South Africa

The term “transitional justice” describes a set of approaches that communities can use to move toward a lasting peace. Transitional justice typically has three key elements: ensuring accountability for crimes and atrocities, establishing truth, and fostering reconciliation. What does transitional justice look like in practice? Judicial actions, like trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, are a key part of seeking justice; so are reparations. Official apologies, government reforms, memorials, and education also have roles to play. Since the 1970s, truth commissions have become one of the most widespread components of transitional justice. Of the more than 40 such commissions dealing with violence and abuses of human rights, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is perhaps the best known.

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