CAPE TOWN August 22 1996 Sapa

ANC APOLOGISES FOR ABUSES IN EXILE CAMPS

No new details of human rights violations in ANC exile camps were forthcoming in the organisation's submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Thursday.

Instead, the ANC handed over the reports of the Skweyiya and Motsuenyane commissions, which probed allegations of abuses in the camps, together with the Stuart Commission's findings on the causes of a mutiny among cadres at Pango in Angola in 1984.

Given the thoroughness with which these commissions had pursued their work, it was not necessary to repeat the details of their reports in the submission, the ANC said.

However, in presenting the 100-page submission to the commission at a special hearing Deputy-President Thabo Mbeki acknowledged that "excesses" had occurred in line with the findings of the independent Motsuenyane Commission.

The independent commission was appointed by President Nelson Mandela in 1993 to investigate allegations of human rights abuses and the disappearance of ANC members.

Mbeki said the ANC concurred with the commission's finding that there had never been any systematic policy of abuse in the camps although there had been a number of excesses.

"We do acknowledge that the real threat we faced and the difficult condition under which we had to operate led to a drift in accountability and control away from established norms."

This had resulted in some members of the ANC's security department "starting to behave as a law unto themselves".

He said the Motsuenyane report illustrated the many consistent efforts by the leadership to establish mechanism of accountability and oversight.

"To the extent that the Motsuenyane commission found that some detainees were maltreated and recommend that the ANC should apologise for this violation of their human rights, the ANC does so without qualification."

In acknowledging the poor treatment of enemy agents in detention centres, the ANC said in its submission that those responsible for the abuses had believed they were dealing with the most critical threat in the history of the ANC following the discovery of a spy-ring within the movement.

In trying to force agents to divulge information they had committed serious abuses.

"For this the ANC accepts collective responsibility. But we emphasise that none of these violations reflected official policy or were in any way sanctioned by the leadership."

When information on the conditions in detention centres reached senior ANC leaders, lengthy meetings had been held by the national executive committee to assess the situation and introduce corrective measures.


South African Press Association, 1996
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