n Acta Juridica - Editorial preface




In the past decade-and-a-half or so, the resolution of deep social conflict in a number of countries has been accompanied by a concern for ensuring 'transitional' justice. The shape such a goal has taken on has frequently been phrased in terms not of simple punishment of the old regime's worst offenders, but of a process of bringing about some form of reconciliation or harmony between both injurers and injured. Leaning heavily on the paradigm of 'restorative justice', quite ambitious endeavours of a public, formal kind have been made to cleanse the collective memory and mitigate individual hurt. In this respect the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is widely regarded as one of compelling examples of restorative justice-in-action, its many imperfections notwithstanding. As a transitional justice mechanism, the TRC remains one leading model, both symbolically and practically, to which others look in seeking ways for engaging with processes aimed at the public acknowledgement of past abuses; the redress for survivors through reparation; the creation of appeasement between former protagonists, and the delivery of a measure of justice. As with other transitional justice mechanisms, the TRC has contributed to our appreciation of the linkages between truth, reconciliation and restorative justice - both at the level of abstract principles and at the level of routine social practices.


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