South Africa: does a truth commission promote social reconciliation?BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7120.1393 (Published 29 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1393
Some pointers but no real evidence
- Derek Summerfield, Psychiatrista
- a Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, London NW5 3EJ
In South Africa the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is winding to a close next year after a marathon of testimony taking from victims and perpetrators. It has pushed rather harder than similarly named commissions in El Salvador or Argentina, where the political and military order implicated in the events under investigation was still essentially in power. Its purpose has been to facilitate society's recognition of the extent of state violence during apartheid by recording the accounts of ordinary victims and thus promote reconciliation.
What can we reliably say about the role of public apology, acknowledgment, and forgiveness in the aftermath …