Accounting for the Past

The lessons for South Africa from Latin America

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The question of accountability has become increasingly important around the world in recent years, as different states attempting to make a transition to democracy have struggled to achieve a balance between retribution and forgetfulness in the interests of national reconciliation. Some of the most notable efforts to come to terms with a brutal past have been made in the Latin American countries recovering from decades of military dictatorship, where commissions have been appointed to unearth the truth of their terrible histories, and - in some cases - prosecutions have been undertaken to mete out justice to the perpetrators and grant a measure of compensation to the victims. This report offers a comparative study of Latin American policies on accountability, and aims to highlight the lessons that may be relevant in the South African context.

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