transitional justice in Rwanda Essay

2268 Words May 16th, 2014 10 Pages
Transitional Justice in Rwanda How did the use of combined strategies of the ICTR and the Gacaca work in the Rwandan case, could it be seen as modern day model for transitional justice?

In the aftermath of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the international community and the Rwandan government embraced criminal prosecution as the primary approach to the restoration of law and order in the country. Leaders and policy makers inside and outside Rwanda cited breaking “the culture of impunity” and “the cycle of hatred” as the reasoning behind the retributive approach. Another key reason behind the quest for retributive justice is that the main organizers of the genocide were easily identifiable political,
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Gacaca, meaning “justice on the grass”, is an indigenous dispute resolution mechanism that was reinvented by the post-genocide Rwandan government to judge genocide cases in local communities. As a primarily restorative justice strategy, Gacaca’s processes of community participation, truth-telling, and compensation are meant to achieve reconciliation through a swift and culturally appropriate mechanism for accountability. While reconciliation is the ultimate goal of Gacaca, its practical benefits cannot be ignored. Rwanda’s prisons are overcrowded and the number of suspects is estimated at over 761, 448 in all categories of criminal responsibility. The approximately 12,000 Gacaca courts spread across the country are able to prosecute these cases more quickly than a national court system. The restorative justice value and the pragmatic necessity of Gacaca courts are evident in their mandate and process. According to the Government of Rwanda, there are five objectives to the Gacaca courts: To reveal the truth about what has happened, to speed up the genocide trials, to eradicate the culture of impunity, to reconcile the Rwandans and reinforce their unity, to prove that the Rwandan society has the capacity to settle its own problems through a system of justice based on the Rwandan custom. The first and third objectives truly speak to the ideal goal
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