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Refereed articles

Respecting revenge: The road to reconciliation

Based on research among victims of human rights violations in South Africa under apartheid, Gabriel O'Malley argues that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work is flawed by the lack of recognition for the desire of many victims for revenge. The commission aimed to achieve restorative rather than retributive justice; perpetrators were not required to apologise or to show remorse.

The commission's human rights values and Christian ethos required victims to forgive; any expression of anger or demand for revenge was out of place. The author argues that retributive institutions are necessary to remove the psychic burden of vengeance, including a prohibition on high-ranking perpetrators from holding public office and a reparations fund to which perpetrators and beneficiaries may contribute. Perpetrators who did not apply or qualify for amnesty, it is further argued, should be prosecuted.

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