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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 343

Paragraph Numbers 100 to 104

Volume 5

Chapter 8

Subsection 31

■ ARCHIVING COMMISSION MATERIAL AND PUBLIC ACCESS7

100 One of the key aspects of the Commission’s work has been its commitment to transparency and public scrutiny. Its records, which are in the form of documents, video and audio tapes, pictures and photographs as well as a computerised database, are a national asset which must be both protected and made accessible.

101 Sections 11(2) and 13(2)(a), of the Archives Act stipulate that no public record may be disposed of (transferred from one office to another, erased, destroyed or disposed of in any other manner) without the written authorisation of the national archivist.

102 The Archives Act further requires that public records with enduring value must be transferred into the custody of the archives only when they have been in existence for twenty years. The national archivist is, however, empowered to identify records which should be transferred to the National Archives sooner, after consultation with the head of the governmental body concerned.

7 The Commission acknowledges the contribution of Ms Trudy Huskamp Peterson of UNESCO for her expert assistance in formulating these recommendations.

103 The Commission thus recommends that:

ALL COMMISSION RECORDS BE TRANSFERRED TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES WHEN THE CODICIL TO THE FINAL REPORT IS MADE PUBLIC.
ALL COMMISSION RECORDS BE ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC, UNLESS COMPELLING REASONS EXIST FOR DENYING SUCH ACCESS, BEARING IN MIND THAT THE INDIVIDUAL’S RIGHTS TO PRIVACY, CONFIDENTIALITY AND RELATED MATTERS MUST BE RESPECTED. IN THIS REGARD, PARTICULAR ATTENTION NEEDS TO BE GIVEN TO THE RELEASE OR WITHHOLDING OF DETAILS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS STATEMENTS IN CASES WHERE INDIVIDUALS FEEL THEIR SAFETY IS PREJUDICED.
VICTIMS HAVE THE RIGHT OF ACCESS TO THEIR OWN FILES, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THESE ARE PUBLICLY AVAILABLE OR NOT. VICTIMS SHOULD BE PROVIDED WITH A COPY OF THEIR FILE IF THEY SO WISH.
TO FACILITATE THE ABOVE, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE PROVIDE PUBLIC NOTICE OF THE INTENT TO TRANSFER THE RECORDS OF THE COMMISSION TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES. THE NOTICE SHOULD INCLUDE A STATEMENT ABOUT THE BASIC ACCESS PROVISIONS FOR THE RECORDS.
THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES BE USED TO DETERMINE ACCESS TO COMMISSION RECORDS IN THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES:
    BECAUSE COMMISSION RECORDS ARE LESS THAN TWENTY YEARS OLD, ACCESS TO THESE RECORDS BE DETERMINED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVIST IN TERMS OF SECTION 12(1) OF THE ARCHIVES ACT.
    IN THE CASE OF RECORD CATEGORIES IDENTIFIED AS REQUIRING PROTECTION, THE NATIONAL ARCHIVIST REFER REQUESTS FOR ACCESS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. IN THE CASE OF ALL OTHER RECORD CATEGORIES, A POLICY OF UNRESTRICTED PUBLIC ACCESS SHOULD BE APPLIED.
    THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION, WHICH IS ALREADY IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, BE MADE AVAILABLE AS SOON AS PRACTICALLY POSSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC: TRANSCRIPTS OF HEARINGS; REASONS FOR AMNESTY DECISIONS; PUBLIC STATEMENTS ISSUED BY THE COMMISSION; ALL OTHER MATERIAL ALREADY AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC ON THE COMMISSION’S INTERNET WEBSITE (www.truth.org.za).
    THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES TAKE OVER THE COMMISSION’S INTERNET WEBSITE, CONTINUE TO MAKE EXISTING MATERIAL – INCLUDING THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION – AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC, LOCALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY, ON THE WEBSITE, AND EXPAND THE WEBSITE IN CREATIVE WAYS (TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE FACT THAT MANY COMMISSION RECORDS ARE STORED IN COMPUTER FILES).
THE GOVERNMENT ALLOCATE ADEQUATE ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES TO PRESERVE AND MAINTAIN THE RECORDS OF THE COMMISSION. TO THIS END, THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES SHOULD PREPARE A COMPREHENSIVE BUDGET PLAN ON THE COSTS OF ADMINISTERING THE COMMISSION’S RECORDS.
THE GOVERNMENT GIVE SPECIAL SUPPORT TO THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES TO FACILITATE THE CREATION OF DECENTRALISED, NATION-WIDE ‘CENTRES OF MEMORY’, AT WHICH MEMBERS OF
THE PUBLIC WHO DO NOT HAVE PERSONAL ACCESS TO COMPUTERS CAN ACCESS DETAILS OF
THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE COMMISSION, INCLUDING TRANSCRIPTS AND SOUND AND VIDEO CLIPS OF HEARINGS.

104 Responsibility for developing and implementing these recommendations, and for monitoring the implementation thereof, rests primarily with:

a The Department of Arts and Culture, Science and Technology;

b The Department of Justice.

 
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