Truth and Reconciliation Commission, South Africa (TRC), which is a South Africa courtlike body established by the new South African government in 1995 to help heal the country and bring about a reconciliation of its people by uncovering the truth about human rights violations that had occurred during the period of apartheid. Its emphasis was on gathering evidence and uncovering information—from both victims and perpetrators—and not on prosecuting individuals for past crimes, which is how the commission mainly differed from the Nürnberg trials that prosecuted Nazis after World War II. The commission released the first five volumes of its final report on Oct. 29, 1998, and the remaining two volumes of the report on March 21, 2003.
he unbanning of the liberation movements and opposition political parties in 1990 by Pres. F.W. de Klerk, the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, and the lifting of the state of emergency in South Africa paved the way for a negotiated peace settlement between the apartheid regime and those who fought against it and brought an end to the struggle against colonialism and apartheid that had lasted in South Africa for more than 300 years. The negotiations resulted in the establishment of a date for the country’s first democratic elections and for an interim constitution to be enacted. A major obstacle to finalizing the interim constitution was the question of accountability for those guilty of gross human rights violations during the years of apartheid. It became clear during the negotiations that the political right and many in the security forces were not loyal to President de Klerk and posed a major threat to stability in the country. They demanded that President de Klerk issue them a blanket amnesty for past actions.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was born of a spirit of public participation, as the new government solicited the opinions of South Africans and the international community regarding the issue of granting amnesty as well as the issue of accountability in respect to past violations and reparations for victims. Civil society, including human rights lawyers, the religious community, and victims, formed a coalition of more than 50 organizations that participated in a public dialogue on the merits of a truth commission. This consultative process lasted a year and culminated in the legislation, the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995, that established the TRC.
Vincent corresponded with Nelson Mandela, President de Clerk and the ANC on the ethos of Worldwide Reconciliation Day. South Africa opted for a day of National Reconciliation and holiday as a South African only solution. Vincent welcomed this as he believed it was the best way forward; ‘Reconciliation is the only way to obtain truth, justice and building a lasting peace’. The first National Reconciliation public holiday in South Africa was on 16th December 1995. Vincent is a strong supporter of the National Reconciliation public holiday in South Africa.