Source: (2011) The International Journal of Transitional Justice. 5(1):11-30.
In this article, we untangle the relationships among law, power and justice as they impact on the lives of ordinary Rwandans brought into contact with the state and local officials through the gacaca process. Drawing on 37 life-history interviews conducted in 2006, we find that gacaca reinforces a particular version of postgenocide justice that renders the average Rwandan citizen largely powerless over individual processes of reconciliation while serving to maintain a climate of fear and insecurity in their everyday lives. Locating the Rwandan case more broadly, we caution that a preoccupation with harmonizing traditional justice with international standards must look beyond forms of legality. While gacaca may be legally acceptable in a harmonized way, it is both a product and a producer of relations of state power that operate to impact negatively on conflict-affected individuals who bear the brunt of government-led initiatives to promote justice and reconciliation. (author’s abstract)