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Restorative justice and the Rwandan genocide

April 1, 2010

First, it has
contributed to the offenders’ willingness to admit what they have done,
to answer questions, and to apologize deeply.

Second, it has reminded
people of the importance of forgiveness in this process. The forgiveness
I speak of is not simply offered by victims of the genocide toward the
perpetrators. The cycle of violence between members of both Hutus and
Tutsis has gone back many years, and they are reinforced by accounts of
atrocities in the past that may or may not have happened. It is why we
helped the prisoners understand that forgiveness was important for them
to consider, since most of them considered themselves victims in some

Third, prisoners have wanted to do something tangible to
demonstrate their desire to make amends. In a number of places they have
done this by working at no cost to build homes for survivors. As he
worked on one such house, one of the ex-prisoners said that he was glad
to have this opportunity, and that it made it possible for him to think
of himself merely as a Rwandan, not as a Hutu or as a participant in the

Read the whole interview.


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