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Justice and Reconciliation on Trial: Gacaca Proceedings in Rwanda

Carter, Linda E.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) New England Journal of International and Comparative Law 14:41ff

“The Gacaca proceedings in Rwanda are an innovative and unique response to a post-conflict situation. … This paper
analyzes the efforts of Gacaca to achieve justice and reconciliation, in part by comparing the process to a typical trial in
the United States. … It is an unusual sight to our eyes to see the inclusion of the defendant (often times several defendants)
in their ironed, pink prison shirts and shorts, sitting side-by-side with people who have survived the genocide. …
Questions to consider include: Is it important to have a comprehensive effort at justice through a criminal process? Or,
is it enough to prosecute the leaders of the atrocities and have a truth commission process for the large numbers of
lower-level perpetrators? How important is it to the people affected by the conflict to have an international prosecution?
How important is it to have prosecutions at a local level? Is there a greater sense of justice or reconciliation through
local prosecutions? Ultimately, the verdict on Gacaca’s success in achieving justice and reconciliation will not only be
important in Rwanda, but will also be useful evidence for developing post-conflict responses in other regions.” (Excerpt from Author)


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