n African Human Rights Law Journal - Truth-seeking processes in Africa : lessons from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Ethiopian Red Terror trials

Volume 17 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



This article demonstrates the significance of truth-telling to post-conflict and post-authoritarian societies in coming to terms with their violent past and building a better social and political system. It argues that the truth not only enables individuals and communities to understand and properly address the past, but also contributes towards building social harmony and lasting peace. In order to achieve its objective, the article engages in a comparative study of transitional truth-seeking processes by focusing on the experiences of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Ethiopian Red Terror trials. The article utilises both primary and secondary sources, and critically analyses existing literature, relevant national and international law, official and non-official reports and other relevant information. A closer examination of the experiences of South Africa and Ethiopia demonstrates that, irrespective of differences in local contexts, truth or truth-telling is an essential element of justice during transition. Hence, the article recommends truth to be pursued as a critical condition of reconciliation and social and political transformation.

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