28 February 2013

SAHA, in partnership with SABC, launches TRC website for Human Rights month

On 21 March 2013, it will be 10 years since the final report of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), with their recommendations, was presented to President Mbeki. The fact that Human Rights Day was selected to mark this official closure of the TRC (and the Day of Reconciliation had been chosen as the starting point for the TRC's work on 16 December 1995) is telling, a clear signifier that this examination of human rights violations under apartheid was originally envisaged as a necessary investment in the country's difficult journey to reconciliation.

A decade later, however, South Africa seems in danger of forgetting the work of the TRC. Most South Africans have not seen the findings and recommendations of the Commission. Little has been done to build on the ideals that underpinned the TRC's initial establishment and a persistent lack of political will and resolve to follow up on the recommendations made in the TRC Report prevails.

Only a selection of recommendations have been engaged with - often controversially so. In recent years, the presidential pardoning of perpetrators who were denied amnesty by the TRC or who eschewed the amnesty process has made a mockery of the TRC's promise of amnesty only for full and frank disclosure from amnesty applicants. The process for reparations and redress, recommended by the TRC, is also stalled, despite the fact that some of the gravest challenges to the process of reconciliation and the right to equality in South Africa are the structural inequalities inherited from the past that contribute to the ever widening gap between the wealthy and the poor. The persistent delays in the payment of reparations promised to victims of apartheid-era gross human rights violations means that many victims are now living in worse conditions than they were under apartheid.

The unfinished business of the TRC remains:
• To provide reparations to victims of gross human rights violations, from both government and big business who benefitted ‘financially and materially from apartheid policies';
• To pursue the prosecution of perpetrators who ignored the TRC's amnesty process or who failed to secure amnesty;
• To manage the presidential pardons process in line with the recommendations of the TRC;
• To conduct ongoing truth recovery to uncover further evidence about unknown, unacknowledged aspects of our past;
• To protect and make readily accessible to all South Africans the ‘national asset' that is the TRC archive;
• To publish and distribute widely across South Africa a popular version of the final TRC report.


To mark Human Rights Month and the 10th anniversary of the TRC's final recommendations to Government, the South African History Archive (SAHA), in conjunction with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is launching a new website on the work of the TRC, centering on the 87-part ‘Truth Commission Special Report' television series, last broadcast 15 years ago

Previously unavailable to most South Africans, the television series has now been brought out of the archives, digitised and repackaged by the South African History Archive (SAHA) as an interactive tool enabling users to revisit the work of the TRC, particularly the multiple public hearings that had been intended as a mechanism for promoting national healing, the creation of new public histories, and the guarding against amnesia.

The aim of the SAHA / SABC Truth Commission Special Report website is to make the work of the TRC universally accessible, to support ongoing transitional justice and reconciliation work in South Africa, to introduce a new generation of South Africans to this vital period in the making of our democracy, and to enrich history and heritage education.

All episodes of the television series have been catalogued, transcribed, indexed and linked to relevant sections of the official TRC Final Report, transcripts from TRC hearings, amnesty decisions, submissions made to the TRC and other related resources, to form a seamless searchable resource intended to make the work of the TRC more accessible and to support much needed on-going transitional justice and reconciliation work in South Africa.

This website is based on the SAHA / SABC Truth Commission Special Report Multimedia Product produced by SAHA from 2008 - 2010, developed primarily with the financial support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, with additional funding provided by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

To visit the website, go to http://sabctrc.saha.org.za

Should you require further information, don't hesitate to contact SAHA on the following details:

Catherine Kennedy (Director)
Phone: 011 718 2561
Email: catherine@saha.org.za
Website: www.saha.org.za


Archival collections relating to the TRC

‘The battle against forgetting: human rights and the unfinished business of the TRC' - exhibition and catalogue

Katorus Stories (in conjunction with Khulumani Support Group)

TRC Archives Project (in conjunction with the University of the Witwatersrand)