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Between Law and Culture: Rwanda’s Gacaca and Postcolonial Legality.

Meyerstein, Ariel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Law and Social Inquiry. 32(2): 467-508.

This article recounts a clash between an establishment international
nongovernmental organization (NGO), Amnesty International, and the
government of Rwanda over the meaning of international human rights
norms in a postconflict society. It offers a critical perspective on the mainstream human rights community’s due process critique of Rwanda’s
gacaca— a system of over ten thousand local judicial bodies modeled on
a precolonial communal dispute resolution the Rwandan government introduced
to process the over one hundred twenty thousand suspects crowding
its prisons following the 1994 genocide. This moment of norm contestation
offers a lens to broader problems facing the human rights regime. It argues
that Amnesty International’s legalistic approach to the gacaca
prevents it from appreciating its unique postcolonial hybrid form, and that other approaches, such as the one adopted by Penal Reform International, are
perhaps better models for human rights praxis in the developing world. (author’s abstract)


AbstractAfricaPost-Conflict ReconciliationRJ in Schools
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