Source: (2005) Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota. Saint Paul, Minnesota: University of Minnesota.

Toran Hansen delves eloquently into the Gacaca tribunals in post-genocide Rwanda by first describing the history and background of the ethnic tensions that existed for decades between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority of the Rwandan people. Eventually this tension boiled over into a civil war that left up to 1 million Rwandans dead and up to 2 million displaced. As the genocide came to a close, thousands of people accused of participating in the genocide were arrested and jailed to await trial. It quickly became clear that another system needed to augment the work of the courts and ensure that the accused and the victims of the genocide got an opportunity to experience justice. The Rwandan government decided that the best option would be to blend an indigenous conflict resolution process called gacaca with the Western legal tradition. Gacaca tribunals, a grassroots community dispute resolution system, had traditionally been used as a way for community elders to resolve village conflicts, but it was modified to address the serious nature of the genocide-related cases that have been clogging up the Rwandan prisons and courts. Hansen focuses this article on how the gacaca tribunals have been modified for this purpose – including successes, criticisms, suggestions and concerns – from a modern restorative justice perspective.

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