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De Jure Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 2225-7160
Print version ISSN 1466-3597

De Jure (Pretoria) vol.45 n.2 Pretoria  2012




Colonialism, justice and the rule of law: A Southern African and Australian narrative


Kolonialisme, geregtigheid en die oppergesag van die reg: 'n Suider-Afrikaanse en Australiese verhaal



Sascha Dominik BachmannI; Tom FrostII

IAssessor Juris (LMU, Germany), LLM (Stell), LLD (UJ); Reader in Law, Lincoln Law School, University of Lincoln
IILLB (Hons)(Leic), PhD (Soton); Lecturer in Law, Newcastle Law School, Newcastle University




Kolonialisme het 'n groot impak op die regstelsels van lande regoor die wêreld gehad. Die historiese impak van die Britse Ryk kan vandag nog steeds gevoel word in lande so uiteenlopend soos Australië en Suid-Afrika. Hierdie impak word in beide hierdie lande ondersoek, in sowel sy historiese vorm van rassediskriminasie, as die moderne gevolge van die koloniale verlede. Hierdie artikel ontleed hoe formele opvattings van die oppergesag van die reg en regsekerheid, pogings om geregtigheid vir gedane historiese onreg te bewrkstellig, kan ondermyn. Voorbeelde hiervan kan gevind word in die Aboriginal grondregte litigasie in Australië, sowel as litigasie in die Verenigde State van Amerika onder die Alien Tort Act.**



“Full text available only in PDF format”


* Sascha Dominik Bachmann undertook some prior work in the field of Human Rights Litigation and Historical Claims Remedies while working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the University of Johannesburg before joining the University of Portsmouth, UK, in 2008 and moving to the University of Lincoln in 2012.
** The authors thank Mrs Sasha-Lee Afrika, LLB, LLM for the Afrikaans translation.
1 Fukuyama The End of History and the Last Man (1992).
2 Radbruch Legal Philosophy (1932) 112.
3 Douzinas & Gearey Critical Jurisprudence: The Political Philosophiy of Justice (2005) 283.
4 Craig "Formal and Substantive Conceptions of the Rule of Law: An Analytical Framework" 1997 Public Law 467.         [ Links ]
5 S 1 (c 4) Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (UK).
6 R v Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court, ex parte Bennett 1994 1 AC 42 (HL) 62, 64 (Lord Griffiths), 67 (Lord Bridge), 75-77 (Lord Lowry); A v Secretary of State for the Home Department 2005 2 AC 68 (HL) par 42 (Lord Bingham), par 74 (Lord Nicholls).
7 Bush v Gore531 US 98.
8 Waldron "Is the Rule of Law an Essentially Contested Concept (in Florida)?" in The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers (ed Bellamy) (2005) 119.         [ Links ]
9 Tamanaha On the Rule of Law (2004) 3.
10 Craig 467.
11 Ibid 467-468.
12 Chemerinsky "Substantive Due Process" 1999 Touro LR1501.
13 Ibid 1501.
14 Santosky v Kramer 455 US 745 753.
15 Lassiter v Department of Social Services452 US 18 27.
16 Santosky supra 762.
17 Rawls A Theory of Justice (1999).
18 Raz The Authority of Law: Essays on Law and Morality (1979) 210 (Ch 11 "The Rule of Law and its Virtue").
19 Finnis Natural Law and Natural Rights (1980) 270.
20 Paine Common Sense (1994) 279.
21 Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics(1984) Book 5 3 1131 a10-b15.
22 Douzinas & Gearey 286.
23 Ibid.
24 Fitzpatrick The Mythology of Modern Law (1992) 65.
25 1919 AC 211 (HL) 233-234.
26 French & Lane "The Common Law of Native Title in Australia" 2002 Oxford U Commonwealth LJ 16.         [ Links ]
27 MacDonald v Levy (1833) 1 Legge 39 45 (NSWSC).
28 Cooper v Stuart(1889) 14 App Cas 286 (PC) 291.
29 McNeil Common Law Aboriginal Title (1989) 122.
30 Cooper v Stuart(1889) 14 App Cas 286 (PC) 291.
31 Reynolds The Law of the Land (1987).
32 Ibid 97-103.
33 Ibid 140.
34 R v Murrell'(1836) 1 Legge 72 (NSWSC).
35 Reynolds 230.
36 Ritter "The Rejection of Terra Nullius in Mabo: A Critical Analysis" 1996 Sydney LR 28-29.         [ Links ]
37 Ibid 29.
38 Ibid 9.
39 Ibid 12.
40 Douzinas & Gearey 287.
41 Douzinas & Gearey 287; Fitzpatrick 70.
42 Mabo v Queensland (No 2) 1992 175 CLR 1 (HCA) par 39.
43 Neal The Rule of Law in a Penal Colony: Law and Politics in Early New South Wales (1991) 17.
44 Ritter 11.
45 Plessy v Ferguson 163 US 537.
46 Watson "Buried Alive" (2002) Law and Critique 262.
47 Castles An Australian Legal History (1982) 524-525; Smandych "Contemplating the Testimony of 'Others': James Stephen, the Colonial Office, and the Fate of Australian Aboriginal Evidence Acts, Circa 18391849" 2004 Australian J of Legal History 237.
48 Fitzpatrick 111.
49 Department of the Parliamentary Library Information and Retrieval System, "Pat Dodson: Mabo, Reconciliation and National Leadership", National Press Club, 15 September 1993 ( (accessed on 2012-04-23)).         [ Links ]
50 Van Krieken "The barbarism of civilisation: cultural genocide and the 'stolen generations'" 1999 British J of Sociology 303.         [ Links ]
51 McGregor Imagined Destinies: Aboriginal Australians and the Doomed Race Theory' 1880-1939 (1997).
52 Ibid 134.
53 Blackton "The dawn of Australian national feeling, 1850-56" 1955 Pacific Historical Rev121-138.         [ Links ]
54 Van Krieken 305.
55 O'Malley "Gentle genocide: the government of Aboriginal peoples in Central Australia" 1994 Social Justice 48.         [ Links ]
56 Moran "White Australia, Settler Nationalism and Aboriginal Assimilation" 2005 Australian J of Politics and History 168-193.         [ Links ]
57 Van Krieken 305; Haebich For Their Own Good: Aborigines and Government in the Southwest of Western Australia, 1900-1940 (1988) 350.
58 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission "Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families" (1997) (accessed on 2012-04-23).
59 Berndt & Berndt From Black to White in South Australia (1952) 275.
60 Ritter 27.
61 Giliomee 34-35, for a description of the Boer "race"; the term is not used derogatively in the context of the article.
62 Giliomee The Afrikaners -Biography of a People (2009) for an authoritative and uncompromising overview of the South African history from the perspective of the white Afrikaner minority; Leach South Africa (1986) for an contemporary account of South Africa's apartheid and its violent challenges during the last decade of its white minority rule; Welsh The Rise and Fall of Apartheid(2009) for an informative and comprehensive account of the rise and fall of Apartheid.
63 Van Jaarsveld Lewende Verlede (1961) 68-69; 73-74 for an analysis of Afrikaner history and ideology.
64 Leach 31 who numbers the total number of Boer concentration camp victims at 26,000. Africans who also fought on the side of the Boers and who were also subjected to internment suffered a similar fate with high mortality numbers in the British camps, see Pakenham The Boer War(2007) 510.
65 Van Jaarsveld 66-67 for a description of Afrikaner identity.
66 A sentiment which sometimes still resonates today and found its way into contemporary Pop culture as the success of the singer Bok van Blerk shows who landed a hit in 2006 with his rendition of "De La Rey", which commemorates the above British atrocities and calls for Boer unity.
67 Giliomee xiv, recognises the Afrikaner as "both victims and proponents of European imperialism".
68 Such as the "Coloured" (mixed race) and Indian race groups.
69 "De Klerk Apologises Again For Apartheid" South African Press Association (1997-05-14) (accessed on 2012-04-23).
70 Welsh 72-73; SAHO at (accessed on 2012-04-20) offers a wide variety of online sources. Sharpeville township was once more in the headlines in 1984 when civil unrest erupted.
71 Also known as the Soweto Youth Riot, which spread over the whole country and were only contained in October 1977. There was a repeat of these riots in Soweto and Sharpeville in 1984 - Leach 128ff See Welsh 101-102 for an account of the divergent Afrikaner opinion on the Soweto 1976 shootings. Both events serve as manifestations of the will of the black majority to take active action against white minority rule, action which moved away from passive resistance to out and out protest and even armed struggle.
72 Coined on the Afrikaans "Apartness".
73 Part (4) of the Commentary to Article 40 of the ILC Draft Articles on State Responsibility, Yearbook of the International Law Commission 2001 vol II Part Two, where racial discrimination and apartheid are listed as potential peremptory norm violations of international law.
74 Article 7 Part 1 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, where the crime of apartheid is listed as one of the elements of crimes against humanity, lit (j); See Article 5 of the Statute of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, 1993-05-25, UNSC Res 827 (1993) which criminalises racial discrimination as crimes against humanity.
75 The Nuremberg Laws of 1935. The "Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour" and the "Reich Citizenship Law" stripped German Jews of their national identity and restricted interracial social as well as professional interaction, establishing the first prerequisite for the later Shoah.
76 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report Volume 1 ch 13 (last accessed 2012-04-24) for a detailed overview of all major apartheid legislation within a topical context.
77 Welsh 74-75; reference is also made to the Treason Trial from 1956-1961 which resembled one of the last 'fair' trials where the rule of law was still upheld.
78 Referring to white Afrikaners as well as English speaking South Africans.
79 Giliomee 551-552.
80 With Emancipation Day on 1 December 1838 marking an early "freedom" day in South African history.
81 This Act forms part of a wider legislative effort in the UK (and its territories) to regulate relationships between employers and employees; the last of these Acts was passed in 1904.
82 Effectively limiting the African vote by tying it to financial and educational minimum requirements.
83 27 of 1913.
84 Van Jaarsveld 64.
85 Stephens International Human Rights Litigation in US Courts (2008).
86 Ibid 541-548; Anderson "Redressing Colonial Genocide: The Hereros' Cause of Action Against Germany" 2005 California LR 1155; Sarkin & Fowler "Reparations for Historical Human Rights Violations: The International and Historical Dimensions of the Alien Torts Claims Act Genocide Case of the Herero in Namibia" 2008 Human Rights Rev 331.
87 Filartiga v Pena-Irala 630 F 2d 876. The ATCA/ATS was only used on a few occasions prior to Filartiga; Symposium "Corporate liability for violations of international human rights law" 2001 Harvard LR 2033.
88 D'Amore "Note, Sosa v Alvarez-Machain and the Alien Tort Statute: How Wide Has the Door to Human Rights Litigation Been Left Open?" 2006 Akron LR 596.         [ Links ]
89 28 USC § 1350.
90 Adra v Clift 195 F Supp 857.
91 Bolchos v Darrel 3 Fed Cas 810.
92 Such as terrorism, Smith v Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 101 F 3d 239 for the terrorist Lockerbie bombing of 1988.
93 Bachmann "Where do we stand with human rights litigation against corporations?" 2007 TSAR 292; Herz "The Liberalizing Effects of Tort: How Corporate Complicity Liability Under the Alien Tort Statute Advances Constructive Engagement" 2008 Harvard Human Rights J 208.
94 I USC §1.
95 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission558 US 310.
96 Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad118 US 394.
97 Strydom & Bachmann "Civil liability of gross human rights violations" 2005 TSAR448 454-457;         [ Links ] "Shell on trial - Oil giant in the dock over 1995 murder of activist who opposed environmental degradation of Niger Delta" The Independent(2009-15-26) available at (accessed on 2012-04-24); John Doe I v Unocal Corp 403 F 3d 708 concerned allegations of corporate complicity in forced labour and torture (the case was settled out of court in 2006); "Historic advance for universal human rights: Unocal to compensate Burmese villagers " (accessed on 2012-04-23); Wiwa v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co 226 F 3d 88 (the case was based on the alleged involvement of the Royal Dutch/ Shell oil group in human rights abuses in Nigeria, leading to the 1995 torture and murder of the environmental and community activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and was settled out of court in 2009); Sarei v. Rio TintoPLC487 F 3d 1193 (regarding alleged complicity of corporations in the commission of war crimes committed by Papua New Guinean Security Forces).
98 105 F Supp 2d 139.
99 Stephens 543.
100 198 FRD 429 (DNJ) MDL No 1337 DNJ Lead Civ No 98-4104 (WGB) (2000).
101 Stephens 543fffor an overview of related lawsuits within their topical context; In re South African Apartheid Litigation 02 MDL 1499 (SDNY) 2009 continues the original unsuccessful 2004 lawsuit; In re South African Apartheid Litigation 346 F Supp 2d 538.
102 See Anderson for a summary of the political and legal questions surrounding the Herero's cause of action against Germany.
103 Krüger "Coming to Terms with the Past" (2005) 45-49; Erichsen & Olusoga The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism(2010).
104 BBC News "German bank accused of genocide" (2001-09-25) (accessed on 2012-04-20).
105 Herero Peoples Reparations Corp v Deutsche Bank AG 370 F 3d 1192; Stephens 1194-1195.
106 Hoffmann "German Acknowledgments A Milestone in Our Struggle" The Namibian (2012-04-12) (accessed on 2012-04-20).         [ Links ]
107 Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995.
108 Justice in Transition booklet explaining the role of the TRC, (accessed on 2012-04-23).
109 TRC A Summary of Reparation and Rehabilitation Policy, Including Proposals to be Considered by the President (accessed on 2012-04-20); Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report Volume 5 (2003) ch 5, 173-195 (accessed on 2012-04-20) and Preamble Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Act 34 of 1995.
110 Bachmann Civil Responsibility For Gross Human Rights Violations - The Need For A Global Instrument (2007) 40-43.
111 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report Volume 1 ch 1, where the chairperson sums up some of the criticisms and challenges directed at the TRC during the duration of its work trc/report/finalreport/Volume%201.pdf (accessed on 2012-04-20). For a current summary, see South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ) "Background: Facing Apartheid's Legacy" (accessed on 2012-04-20).
112 Neither former president Thabo Mbeki nor President Jacob Zuma showed much interest in implementing the TRC's recommendations. The only exception was the initial disbursements of R48.37 million by Nelson Mandela's President's Fund, which paid out grants of R3,000 each to the 17,100 applicants in November 2001. The median annual household income in SA at that time was around R21,700; Strydom & Bachmann 2005 TSAR 448 466-467.
113 South African History Archive Draft Regulations released for payment of reparations to apartheid victims (2011) payment_of_reparations_to_apartheid_ victims.htm (accessed on 2012-04-23). The South African Coalition for Transitional Justice criticised these regulations in its Comments On The Draft Regulations Published By The Department Of Justice Dealing With Reparations For Apartheid Era Victims (2011) (accessed on 2012-04-23).
114 "Khulumani Memorandum to the President" (2012) (accessed on 2012-04-23).
115 In re South African Apartheid Litigation; Ntsebeza v Citigroup 346 F Supp 2d 538; Bachmann 34-36.
116 In re South African Apartheid Litigation 02 MDL 1499 (SDNY) 2009.
117 This decision was taken in order to prevent any damage to present and future foreign investment in South Africa and must be seen before the background that the original amount of remedies sought, totalled US 0 billion. "It's state v apartheid victims" Mail & Guardian (2005-10-21) 5 for a brief overview of the controversy in South Africa.
118 "State supports apartheid-era victims" IOL - News for South Africa (2009-09-03) (accessed on 2012-04-23).
119 Ephraim "US General Motors settles apartheid reparations claim" Mail & Guardian Online (2012-02-29) (accessed on 2012-04-24).
120 Sosa v Alvarez-Machain 542 US 692.
121 Ibid 714.
122 Ibid 732.
123 Ibid.
124 Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum 2012 (SCOTUS).
125 Kiobel oral transcript 11 (accessed on 2012-04-23).
126 See (accessed on 2012-04-23).
127 Mabo v Queensland (No 2) 1992 175 CLR 1 (HCA).
128 Supra.
129 Ritter 22.
130 Coe v Commonwealth1979 53 AJLR 403 (HCA).
131 Mabopar 39.
132 Ibid par 63.
133 Ibid par 82.
134 Ibid parr 28-29.
135 Simpson "Mabo, International Law, Terra Nullius and the Stories of Settlement: An Unresolved Jurisprudence" 1993 Melbourne U LR200.         [ Links ]
136 Ritter 30.
137 Mabopar 55.
138 Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA).
139 Simpson 207.
140 S 225 NTA; MacCormick Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory (1978).
141 Weyraucht "Law as Mask - Legal Ritual and Relevance" 1978 California LR 699.
142 Kerruish & Purdy "He 'Look' Honest, Big White Thief" 1998 Law, Text, Culture 150.
143 Ritter 32.
144 Coe & Lewis "100% Mabo" 1992 Polemic 143.
145 Ritter 33.

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