Gacaca: A successful experiment in restorative justice?
....The twofold reparative function of restorative justice is, however, crucial and so the extent to which gacaca’s emphasis on ‘truth-telling’ realised its desired outcome is subject to debate. To draw on Johnstone’s conception of restorative justice once again, the fact that gacaca failed to offer something positive, in the form of compensation, to meet the needs of the victims meant part of its reparative function was undermined.
Rwanda: Kagame commends Gacaca courts
The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis and its aftermath, said president Kagame, presented us with challenges that tested us all to limit. Among these challenges was redress for victims, perpetrators' accountability for their crimes and restoring harmony among Rwandans.
While Rwanda could have chosen the path of vengeance, or of general amnesty, Kagame said the people had chosen the hard but best way of justice and reconciliation. That is a victory to celebrate, he said on Monday during the official closing of the participative justice of Gacaca courts which started in June 2002.
Learning from Rwanda
....How do you mend a country when intimates killed intimates in such tightly knitted communities? How do you do justice when thousands of people were perpetrators and where you only have so much prison space? How do you do it?
Rwanda is doing it through a largely homegrown restorative justice methodology.
Reconciliation Village Hosts Victims, Perpetrators of Rwandan Genocide
From the article by Zack Baddorf on Voice of America News:
It's been more than 16 years since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that left about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus dead. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who was re-elected in August with 93 percent of the vote, says now there are no longer Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda, only Rwandans. As a test of how well the different ethnic groups can live together, victims and perpetrators of the genocide are living side-by-side in a small community known as the Reconciliation Village.
Truth and reconciliation at a price
The societal impact of gacaca on post-genocide Rwanda has been highly variable. Gacaca’s volatility results from the enormous number of communities involved, which themselves vary greatly in terms of their experiences of the genocide and the nature of inter-ethnic relations today. Over the last nine years, gacaca has recorded two principal successes and confronted two main challenges.
First, gacaca has proven remarkably successful at expediting the post-genocide justice process, delivering accountability for hundreds of thousands of génocidaires. In the process, it has commuted many convicted perpetrators’ sentences to overcome the problem of overcrowded prisons and facilitated the reintegration of most detainees into everyday society. Thus, the Rwandan government will soon have delivered on its promise of comprehensive prosecutions of those responsible for committing genocide crimes but without recreating the problem of overcrowded jails that necessitated gacaca in the first place....
Trauma care in April
from the Prison Fellowship Rwanda blog:
The month of April is a very difficult time for most Rwandans. April 7, 2010 marks the sixteenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, where over one million Rwandans were killed in just under 100 days.
Sixteen years after the genocide is not a long time, and memories of the pain and loss are still raw and fresh in the minds of thousands of Rwandans. Many Rwandan survivors suffer from trauma and traumatic episodes during the period of April as they remember the horrific crimes experienced against them.
A safe place to call home: Securing the right of Rwandan genocide survivors to resettlement outside Rwanda
Genocide survivors in Rwanda have great difficulty receiving refugee status and right of asylum to allow them to settle outside of the country. The standard reply that they receive when making queries about the possibility of immigrating to Europe, Canada, or the United States is that there is no longer persecution on the basis of ethnicity in Rwanda, and thus there is no legal merit to their request.
It is true that there is no government sanctioned persecution on the basis of ethnicity in Rwanda today. However, social persecution, discrimination, marginalization, threats, and intimidation towards survivors of the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi prevail on a popular level amongst many Rwandans.
Genocide survivors are targeted for physical and psychological torture and have been attacked and killed in various parts of the country. Fifteen years after the genocide many lack physical and psychological security.
Restorative justice and the Rwandan genocide
Do you see healing occurring in the victims? And in the offenders as well? How does the community respond?
The healing process is a long and involved one. I think that Umuvumu Tree Project has helped in that process in several ways.
Forgiveness: Human or Divine?
Earlier this month the film As We Forgive, a documentary about Rwanda, was released on DVD (check out the trailer here). It does not chronicle the 1994 genocide, but what has come after: Rwanda's struggle to rebuild itself.
Interview with Pierre Allard on Rwanda and DRC
Following are three video segments of an interview with Pierre Allard on the television programme 100 Huntley Street. Pierre Allard was formerly Chaplain General and Assistant Commissioner of Corrections Canada. Since his retirement he and his wife Judy have been living and working in Rwanda and the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo.