CRIMINAL JUSTICE Short Answer Question

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE CJ502 – FINAL ASSIGNMENT Albie Sachs, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Turning Negativity into Positivity

Instructions: South African apartheid was a racial caste system that existed from 1948 to 1994. It was a de jure (by law) system that legally segregated people based on four racial classes and disenfranchised non-whites. Under “grand apartheid” people were forcibly relocated people based on race. While the United States was dismantling legal segregation, South Africa was expanding it.

Apartheid led to a thirty-year conflict of brutal internecine violence and gross human rights atrocities; perpetrated primarily, but not only, by the apartheid regime. After the conflict ended and South Africa entered reconstruction, the question of accountability for war crimes loomed. Very innovative and very controversial, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was born of that process. Our final project in Criminal Procedure is to listen to a lecture by Judge Albie Sachs about the TRC, his personal experience with it, and with rebuilding South Africa.

Albie Sachs was a young lawyer in South Africa in the 1950’s defending people charged under racial statutes and “security” laws. He joined the freedom movement and eventually went underground with the ANC. In 1988 he survived an assassination attempt by a car bomb in Mozambique. After apartheid ended, he returned to South Africa helped author a new constitution and was one of the architects of the Truth and Reconciliation process.

Listen to my introduction and review the slides on Truth and Reconciliation, then watch Albie Sachs’ lecture on iLearn and answer the following study questions and one of the thought questions. Submit your answers on iLearn by Monday, May 25.

You can find the video on iLearn and here:


  1. What is Albie’s soft vengeance?
  2. According to Albie, how did the Truth and Reconciliation process (TRC) emerge?
  3. What were the two foundations of the strength of the TRC process?
  4. What is the difference between blanket amnesty and acknowledgment?
  5. Did everyone who applied for amnesty get it?
  6. What were the three sections of TRC?
  7. What moment symbolized the moral collapse of apartheid?
  8. What is the difference between knowledge and acknowledgment?

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CJ502 Final Page 1

  1. What are the four truths Albie invented?
  2. Which two correspond to ordinary court cases? Which two corresponded to the TRC process?
  3. According to Albie, what is one of the worst features of past criminality?
  4. How did the TRC create a basis for healing?
  5. Did Henry every get amnesty?
  6. What did you like better, Albie’s singing or his fashion sense? (They have both grown on me over the years)QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT

Select one to answer in a paragraph or two. Answer more for extra credit.

  1. In ordinary criminal trial in the United States, silence of the defendant is incentivized by the that the burden is on the government and by the Fifth Amendment. However, in the Truth and Reconciliation process disclosure by the accused was incentivized by the promise of amnesty, which might be won by full and truthful disclosure. There are a number of other extraordinary differences between the TRC process and the regular American criminal trial process. Pick several that stood out to you and discuss them in a paragraph or two.
  2. It seems unfair for people to get away with human rights abuses. However, human rights scholars talk about the difference between amnesty and impunity. For social, historical, and political reasons as well as practical reasons South Africa was unable to hold everyone accountable for crimes committed during apartheid. Instead they used the promise of amnesty to encourage people to participate in the TRC process, which they hoped would help rebuild the country. Do you think it was justifiable for perpetrators of great harm (sometimes torture or murder) to be given amnesty in the South African context? Why or why not?
  3. There have been a number of other truth commission inspired by the South African model. Most recently in the United States the Maine Wabanaki Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2013 to 2015) was launched to uncover the truth about forced removal of Native American children from their homes under polices that were assimilationist and culturally genocidal. Describe an example of a human rights situation you think might or would have benefited from a process like the TRC. Are there other mechanisms that would work better than either an ordinary trial or a truth commission in the example your chose?