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Justice and reconciliation in Rwanda: What role for civil society?

Comlan, Edem K.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2010) paper presented at the African Transitional Justice Research Network Workshop “Advocating Justice: Civil Society and Transitional Justice in Africa” 30–31 August 2010, Johannesburg, South Africa

Civil society was not really involved in the design of TJ mechanisms in Rwanda. NURC was
already planned by the Arusha Agreement in 1993; it thus did not appear necessary to the
government to discuss this issue with civil society. The creation of gacaca was not the result
of an open dialogue either. Discussions were limited to a small committee of “wise men”.
Civil society only became involved at the beginning of the functioning of the gacaca, either to
reach out to the population or to protest against some aspects of the institution. It did,
however, play an important part in the follow-up of gacaca trials, including through monitoring
programs or advocacy, making sure of their fairness and efficiency. Greater attention has
been given to gacaca now that its closing is imminent10. If the formula seems like a lesser
evil given material constraints, it has been presented as an “emergency solution”11, which is
sometimes qualified as an “insult to human rights”12. To many observers, the absence of real
lawyers in the defense of the accused and the lack of competence and professionalism of the
judges do not guarantee a fair trial. (excerpt)


AbstractAfricaPost-Conflict ReconciliationRJ in Schools
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