Gacaca and the ICTR incomparable

The achievements by the soon to be concluded Gacaca semi-traditional courts cannot be compared to those of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The argument is drawn from the assertion by Phil Clark, a scholar who said that Gacaca has performed better that the UN Court—to which we concur but only add that the two systems cannot be compared, by virtue of their contribution to the reconstruction of this country that was left devastated by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. As far as we know, the farthest one can urge the case of comparing the two institutions is by the fact that they were both instituted to dispense justice by dealing with people who played a role in the genocide, and that is where it stops.

The achievements by the soon to be concluded Gacaca semi-traditional courts cannot be compared to those of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

The argument is drawn from the assertion by Phil Clark, a scholar who said that Gacaca has performed better that the UN Court—to which we concur but only add that the two systems cannot be compared, by virtue of their contribution to the reconstruction of this country that was left devastated by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

As far as we know, the farthest one can urge the case of comparing the two institutions is by the fact that they were both instituted to dispense justice by dealing with people who played a role in the genocide, and that is where it stops.

As it has been observed, the ICTR, in 15 years, despite the vast resources at their disposal, has only managed to try less than 50 cases—nonetheless marred with inconsistencies that led to the acquittal of some individuals whose role in the atrocities is written in black and white.

Gacaca has dully completed over a million cases within less than 5 years of its existence.

Contrary to what many pessimists said when Gacaca was being mooted, that it was out to disintegrate the then rather delicate community, they have been totally proven wrong because of the boost that this system has given to the reconciliation drive.

It has also contributed heavily to national development through the TIG programme where former inmates, who pleaded guilty of their role because of the Gacaca approach.

Now apart from failure to apprehend the fugitives who still remain visibly at large, the Tribunal has even failed to do the least in bringing justice to the people who deserve it; bringing the residues of cases to Rwanda, as the court nears completion.

They should also swallow their pride and bring the convicts to Rwanda to complete their sentences rather than ferrying them off to West African countries like Mali.

One can only conclude that whereas the ICTR was hurriedly mooted by the international community out shame for what had happened in Rwanda in front of their eyes, Gacaca was meticulously discussed with inputs from all Rwandans in total consideration of the socio-political situation that prevailed then.

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