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Rwanda’s Post-Genocide Justice and Reconciliation Struggles

Emerging from a Genocide 

Delivering justice for mass atrocities is a daunting challenge in any country, and the scale of the Rwandan genocide would have overwhelmed even the best-equipped judicial system. In Rwanda, the task was made more difficult by the fact that many judges, lawyers, and other judicial staff were killed during the genocide, and much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. Despite these challenges, the Rwandan government embarked on an ambitious and unprecedented approach to delivering justice, using both conventional domestic courts and community-based gacaca courts. 

But RPF Committed Crimes Too

Whereas Rwanda has had such an impressive record in bringing to justice perpetrators of the genocide, not much has been done to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). In contrast to progress in trying perpetrators of the genocide, very few RPF members have been held to account for the war crimes and crimes against humanity they committed in 1994. These killings were not in any way equivalent to the genocide, but the victims and their families have a right to see justice done. 

Community-Based Reparations

Although Rwanda has certainly made strides in the post genocide justice and reconciliation process not all the survivors have benefited from reparation which is important in the reconstruction process. There is need therefore to address the issue of reparation for the benefit of both survivors and perpetrators. Reparation can lead to a more empowered and positive social identity through three processes: social capital bonding, social capital bridging and dialogue. The three processes are linked and work together through the social psychology of participation. One way to prioritise the issue is to establish a reparation task force, as various organisations in Rwanda have suggested. Future genocide courts need to give options besides monetary reparation for the road to redemption and reconciliation. Given the success of community initiatives driven by reparation more support for community-based organisations and associations is necessary to create the receptive social contexts to achieve reconciliation.
Rwanda’s Post-Genocide Justice and Reconciliation Struggles  Rwanda’s Post-Genocide Justice and Reconciliation Struggles Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on February 10, 2016 Rating: 5

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