- Showing 6 posts published between Aug 01, 2009 and Aug 31, 2009 [Show all]
Gacaca's end and its legacy
The Rwandan government announced today that it will stop taking new gacaca cases as of July 31st and that it intends to wind down gacaca operations within five months. Gacaca is a traditional local justice procedure (gacaca roughly means “justice on the grass” in Kinyarwanda) that the government modified to process the staggering number of low-level genocide cases and help reconcile perpetrators with their communities. Starting in 2002, the Rwandans began operating a system of more than 10,000 gacaca courts. Regardless of what one may think about its merits, the gacaca experience has represented a Herculean task with hundreds of thousands of cases processed in the past few years. In the words of Lars Waldorf, it was mass justice for mass atrocity. But was it successful? I was asked today on the BBC World Service (interview starts at the 18:53 mark) about gacaca’s legacy and I noted that it was mixed.
Overcoming speechlessness: A poet encounters "the horror" in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel
from Alice Walker's Blog:
In this essay, Poet Alice Walker writes of encountering "the horror" (as in Joseph Conrad's novel, 'The Heart of Darkness') in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel and finding her voice again after a period of speechlessness. Part of what has happened to human beings, she believes, is that we have, over the last century, witnessed cruel and unusually barbaric behavior that was so horrifying it literally left us speechless. We had no words to describe it even when we viewed it; nor could we easily believe human beings could fall to such levels of degradation; we have been deeply frightened. This self-imposed silence has slowed our response to the plight of those who most need us, often women and children but also men of conscience who resist evil but are outnumbered by those around them who have fallen victim to a belief in weapons, male or ethnic dominance, greed and drugs.
Restorative justice, survivors and the death penalty
by Dan Van Ness
Two interesting items appeared on my desktop today, both about the death penalty. One, titled Conn. Home Invasion Survivor Faces Long Court Case, begins this way:
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – At 52, Dr. William Petit faces years — perhaps decades — of emotionally draining court hearings before the two men charged with murdering his family in a 2007 home invasion may be convicted and executed.
He’ll have to listen repeatedly to the horrific details of the crimes against his wife, who was strangled, and two daughters, who were tied to their beds. All three died of smoke inhalation from a fire police say the intruders set as they fled Petit’s house after holding the family hostage for hours. Petit, a prominent physician who was beaten during the ordeal, will sit feet away from the defendants as they assert their rights and file appeal after appeal.
As lawmakers weigh the future of the death penalty in some states, officials are giving greater weight to the effect of prolonged death penalty cases on victims’ families. Petit realizes that the case might drag on for years, but he remains committed to seeing defendants Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky put to death.
Harvard scholar versus Cambridge police
by Lisa Rea
Most of us have heard all about the police incident in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard Square. A Harvard scholar by the name of Henry Louis Gates was arrested at his home after a neighbor called the police concerned someone was breaking into the house. This occurred at 12:30pm after Gates had just returned to his home from an international flight to China.
Book Review: Urban Crime Prevention, Surveillance and Restorative Justice.
by Eric Assur
This work is a collection of papers on various themes from the 2006 Criminology conference at the University of Sheffield. As might be expected, the presenters are generally from London, Oxford, and Cambridge, Sheffield and/or United Kingdom governments. This review will only comment on the four Restorative Justice segments, almost 100 pages, of the book.
The restorative justice themes are broad (adult courts, juvenile justice, community applications) and the focus is limited to Northern Ireland and Britain. Much can be learned by the North American reader willing to sit with a cup of tea and a mind that is open to different models or approaches to using restorative justice, unfamiliar laws, new terms, and spelling alien to English speakers across the pond.
Aug 03, 2009 Book Review
"What am I going to do now?," ran through my mind as the conference skittered to a complete halt. The young man, although painfully non-verbal, had been cooperative, responding to questions and telling his story of stealing an automobile. Yet, when his mother asked whether or not he was sorry, he refused to answer.
With a firm statement of, "I've already answered it," the young offender had us all baffled. Referring to the difficulty of hearing over the air conditioner (I had asked him to speak up a couple of times), I asked if he would mind answering it again. He point blank refused, stating, "I don't repeat myself."