South Africa considering pardons for political prisoners James M Yoch Jr at 10:59 AM ET
[JURIST] The South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development [official website] said Thursday that it is currently considering 1,107 applications for relief from prisoners claiming their incarceration is politically motivated. According to Minister Brigitte Mabandla, the South African constitution [text] gives the president power to pardon the prisoners, many of whom have requested relief through the Inkatha Freedom Party [party website] and the Pan Africanist Congress [Wikipedia backgrounder]. The department has processed the applications but attributes any delay to the seriousness of some of the offenses and their consequently lengthy imprisonment terms. In addition, many of the prisoners would have appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) [official website] had their crimes not occurred after the TRC adjourned.
In January, South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority established a policy to prosecute political crimes [JURIST report] committed during apartheid by individuals who were denied amnesty by the TRC, but it did not address how prisoners not appearing before the commission would be treated. From Johannesburg, the Mail & Guardian has more.
Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.