Press Release: SACTJ Calls in State to Honour Its Reparations Obligations for All Victims

On 11 May 2011, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD) gazetted regulations for the payment of educational assistance and health benefits exclusively to victims identified by the TRC. The regulations were gazetted after only a very superficial consultation process with victims and other stakeholders, and do not address the key concerns expressed by these stakeholders.

The current proposals represent a failure of the state to deliver on its obligations to make reparations to victims of gross human rights violations. The government is proposing that it only pays for the small group of victims who made statements to the TRC rather than the thousands who legally qualify as victims of gross human rights violations. Broadening the reach of the reparations provisions was explicitly recommended by the TRC who did not want to set up a privileged group of victims after its very brief operations.

Effective reparations to all victims are a legal responsibility of the state. Many victims have come forward after the closure of the TRC. Excluding them would miss an opportunity to heal deeply traumatised communities and individuals. The state must give substance to the values and principles made explicit in the Preamble to the Constitution "to honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land."

The coalition has records of thousands of victims who have been sidelined by the reparations process. Their needs and priorities have been communicated to the DoJ & CD. Numerous attempts have been made to collaborate in the development of appropriate regulations. The regulations published by the Department show a complete disregard for the government's legal obligations. It also demonstrates a dismissive attitude to the needs expressed by victims.

The process of consultation needs to start afresh. The DoJ & CD proposals do not provide the basis for constructive dialogue.

Thirteen years after the closure of the TRC victims are tired of being treated with disrespect by the state. They paid a very high cost for the liberation of South Africa and they now find themselves ignored by an uncaring state. The Coalition demands that the present process is stopped until meaningful consultations are carried out with victims and interested parties.

The SACTJ comprises the Khulumani Support Group, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, the International Centre for Transitional Justice, the South African History Archives, the Human Rights Media Centre, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, the Freedom of Expression Institute and the Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture.

CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

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