KIGALI - The National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide (CNLG) has plans to highlight the achievements of the Gacaca courts ahead of the traditional courts’ completion this month.
The Gacaca semi-traditional courts which were established to try suspects of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis are scheduled to end this month.
According to CNLG’s Executive Secretary, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, CNLG is set to receive the archives anytime.
“At the moment we intend to keep the archives in their stores where they are but they will be managed by CNLG,” said Mucyo.
He added that they have plans of building an advanced digital archive database that will have the capacity to manage the archives of the National Service of Gacaca Courts (SNJG) alongside CNLG archives.
“If we get funds, we intend to build our archive in Nyanza, Kicukiro District and we shall soon embark on sensitizing Rwandans to start writing their history so that we can keep their records for the future generations,” said Mucyo.
The archives facility is set to be established at Nyanza Memorial Site which also currently serves as the headquarters of IBUKA, the umbrella body of Genocide Survivors associations.
SNJG has started conducting mobilization campaigns and reaching out to the people to listen to their grievances towards Gacaca.
According to the SNJG Executive Secretary, Domitille Mukantaganzwa, they are on the right track to ensure that the deadline of completion is beaten. Initially she had said that according to her schedule, all cases in appeal and revision would be concluded by the end of this month.
“To date we have gone back to the sectors to meet with people, listen to them if they have any dissatisfaction over cases tried in the past and we solved them; we want to leave a clean record,” said Mukantaganzwa.
Despite high hopes for a clear and clean completion, the Executive Secretary of AVEGA, an association of widows of the Genocide, Assumpta Umurungi, said that she was sure there are certain cases that would not be finished by the end of this month.
“I am sure that there will be a strategy to handle each case as it arises; by now I can only say that Gacaca did a great job and has succeeded in achieving its goal,” said Umurungi.
When contacted, Theodore Simburudari, the President of IBUKA hurriedly said; “we don’t evaluate Gacaca and we will not evaluate Gacaca, so I can’t comment on its performance.”
Meanwhile, as the completion proceeds, the SNJG also plans to set up an Information centre on Gacaca and to undertake an evaluation study of the system, this year.
Previous reports indicate that the Gacaca judges commonly known as Inyangamugayo would be given a financial support by government and other donors to help them establish cooperatives as a form of reward for the commendable job they did.
It is estimated that the judges of the Gacaca system have disposed over 1.5 million cases.
SNJG announced that the courts will close by June this year as most of the cases have been completed.
Gacaca courts are semi traditional courts introduced by the country to deal with the backlog of over a million cases of persons suspected of taking part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The latest Gacaca report dated September 30, 2008, indicates that 1,127,706 Genocide cases had passed through Gacaca courts and among those, only 4,679 remained untried.
The additional number of cases is attributed to a decision by government to transfer some the suspects formally under Category One-which had initially been reserved for conventional courts to Gacaca.
The 2008 report had put Genocide ideology as one of the main stumbling blocks to the Gacaca process.
Gacaca courts which have been praised by many legal experts were adopted with the purpose of administering justice while promoting national unity and reconciliation.
The pilot phase started on June 19, 2002 with full implementation starting on June 24, 2004.