24 March 2013

March 24 marks International Day for the Right to the Truth

Known in full as the ‘International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims', this day was proclaimed by the UN in December 2010 in honour of human rights violation victims.

The UN holds various global activities on this day and encourages government and people around the world to observe this day by:

  • Honouring victims of human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to the truth and justice.
  • Paying tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all.
  • Recognising the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assassinated on March 24, 1980, after denouncing human rights violations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposing violence.

This day is also linked to the government's obligation and duty to protect and guarantee human rights, to conduct effective investigations and to guarantee effective remedy and reparations.

In South Africa, this day bears a huge significance considering the country's journey from the repressive apartheid regime to the present day democratic dispensation.

More important is the Truth and Reconciliation process which operated on the principles of the right to the truth, to institute reparations to victims of human rights violations, to grant amnesty to deserving perpetrators, and to recommend due prosecutions. The bottom line was to facilitate reconciliation founded on truth.

10 years after the final report was handed to the then president, Thabo Mbeki, 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 in relation to reparations, prosecutions, ongoing truth recovery and the accessibility of the TRC archive prevails.

Victims of human rights violations could be excused for feeling failed and let down by the government. The fund set up for the reparations process is gathering dust and there are no processes in place for the rollout. Amounting to the greater "unfinished business of the TRC".

In Search of the Truth - a multimedia presentation

The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) features a multimedia presentation on the right to the truth which features SAHA materials relating to the truth and reconciliation processes. 

View the 'In search of the Truth' multimedia presentation

SAHA and Human Rights Month

To mark Human Rights Month in South Africa this year, SAHA in conjunction with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), launched a 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 weekly television series has now been brought out of the archives, digitised and repackaged by SAHA, in conjunction with the SABC, to make the work of the TRC more universally accessible and to support ongoing transitional justice and reconciliation work in South Africa.

Visit the website

View the SAHA TRC Collections