Rwanda: Kagame commends Gacaca courts
Jul 19, 2012
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.
He commended the choice the Rwandan people for a homegrown solution where they revivified the community with a participatory justice, Gacaca. "We chose the more difficult course: to deal with the matter decisively and restore the unity and integrity of the nation. We turned to our cultural, judicial and conflict-resolution mechanism, and adapted it to respond to the challenges of the day. We reintroduced Gacaca with its twin emphasis on restorative justice and reconciliation, each of which was critical for us," Kagame noted.
The President observed that despite imperfections, and many challenges including criticism from both within and outside Rwanda, Gacaca has served its purpose and went far beyond results people would expect.
"There can be no doubt that Gacaca has served us very well in regard to telling the truth, national healing, reconciliation and justice. It challenged every Rwandan into introspection and soul-searching," he remarked.
....He expressed his appreciation for the work of the inyangamugayo which has led to the Gacaca's success, but also for the people. "I thank Rwandans for their full participation, and the inyangamugayo for their selfless dedication in hearing and judging many cases," Kagame said.
The success of Gacaca, he said, should be measured against the success of other courts such as ICTR, which has only tried 60 cases. "At significantly less cost, Gacaca has delivered justice, reconciliation at a very high rate - close to 2 million cases - against the ICTR which, with US$ 1.7 billion, tried only 60 cases," Kagame observed.