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South Africa / Amnesty - 2002-05-28


A South African human rights group says it’s “shocked” to hear media reports that the government has agreed to grant - what appears to be -unconditional amnesty to former South African Defense Force generals. The Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation describes the move as insensitive to the victims and survivors of gross human rights violations.

Executive Director Graeme Simpson says, “One can only wonder why we need a new process at this point, and precisely what and whose interests it will be designed to serve.” He says the new amnesties undermine the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which called amnesty for those who admitted their guilt for human rights abuses under Apartheid and reparations for the victims of rights abuses. He says it seems “clear that there is little or no commitment in government to pursue further investigations and prosecutions against those who did not apply for amnesty.”

Mr. Simpson says in the early days of democracy there was fear of a right wing/military backlash. He speculates that granting amnesty to the former generals is the culmination of years of negotiations that began when that fear was prevalent. Otherwise, he says, the ANC led government has no legitimate reason in granting the amnesties to those who “never felt the heat” of potential prosecution. Mr. Simpson spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.

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