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Righting the Wrongs of Apartheid Justice for Victims and Unjust Profiteers

Kevin Hopkins and Christopher Roederer

Abstract

In trying to come to grips with what is involved in righting the wrongs of apartheid, we begin by pointing out unique challenges posed by societies in transition. It is our position that the pursuit of justice is not the same in transitional contexts as it is in stable democracies. As we shall see, the transitional domain throws up several non-standard obstacles in the way of fulfilling the imperatives of justice. After this introduction to justice in transitions we will look more closely at the relationship between justice and law in the context of political transformation generally, and the specific relationship between justice and international human rights law in this transformative process. Thereafter we will address the pursuit of justice in respect of both apartheid’s perpetrators as well as its victims—the discussion will, however, be limited to the liability of those who fall outside the scope of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) mandate. In that regard, we will deal with violations of rights not specifically covered by the TRC: odious apartheid debt owed to international legal entities; other debt incurred by the apartheid state to private money-lending institutions; the violation of international labour standards in the apartheid state; and the unjust enrichment of foreign corporations at the expense of black South Africans.

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