In exchange for truth : the Polish lustration and the South African amnesty process

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Poland and South Africa have each inherited a similar legacy of human rights violations perpetrated by previous authoritarian regimes; they each underwent complicated political transitions and used similar methods of dealing with the remnants of their previous regimes. South Africa granted amnesty from criminal prosecution to perpetrators in exchange for truth about their involvement in the violations of the past. In Poland leading public posts were granted in accordance with the same principle of truth exchange. However, existing frameworks for the study of transitional justice do not allow for immediate comparison of the relative benefits and pitfalls of granting amnesty to criminals vis--vis measures to provide public sector employment. This paper extends the existing framework of transitional justice and applies it to the study of the major policy choices of the Polish lustration process (1999-2002) and the South African amnesty process (1996-2000). They encompass components such as the formal scope of truth, the choice of particular procedures, sanctions, transparency and impartiality. The comparison provides us with a more nuanced understanding of the institutional mechanisms that allow for the utilisation of the meaning of truth in complicated transitions from authoritarian regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-99
Number of pages19
JournalPolitikon: South African Journal of Political Studies
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

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amnesty
regime
Poland
justice
human rights violation
prosecution
sanction
transparency
public sector
utilization

Cite this

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In exchange for truth : the Polish lustration and the South African amnesty process. / DAVID, Roman.

In: Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, Vol. 33, No. 1, 04.2006, p. 81-99.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

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AB - Poland and South Africa have each inherited a similar legacy of human rights violations perpetrated by previous authoritarian regimes; they each underwent complicated political transitions and used similar methods of dealing with the remnants of their previous regimes. South Africa granted amnesty from criminal prosecution to perpetrators in exchange for truth about their involvement in the violations of the past. In Poland leading public posts were granted in accordance with the same principle of truth exchange. However, existing frameworks for the study of transitional justice do not allow for immediate comparison of the relative benefits and pitfalls of granting amnesty to criminals vis--vis measures to provide public sector employment. This paper extends the existing framework of transitional justice and applies it to the study of the major policy choices of the Polish lustration process (1999-2002) and the South African amnesty process (1996-2000). They encompass components such as the formal scope of truth, the choice of particular procedures, sanctions, transparency and impartiality. The comparison provides us with a more nuanced understanding of the institutional mechanisms that allow for the utilisation of the meaning of truth in complicated transitions from authoritarian regimes.

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