IBUKA, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors’ associations, has poked holes in article 9 of the Gacaca law precisely on the clause on judgements pronounced by Gacaca Courts while offenders were out of the country, and now wants this particular clause amended to avoid legal gaps contributing to impunity. The article in question is contained in the Organic Law terminating Gacaca Courts and determining mechanisms for solving issues which were under their jurisdiction, as enacted in 2012. Gacaca Courts – the traditional courts introduced to deal with the more than one million backlog cases of persons suspected of committing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda – were officially closed in June 2012. According to the Article 9 of the law, if a person was sued, tried and sentenced by a Gacaca Court while abroad, returns and it is found that he or she did not have any intention to escape justice, he or she “may file an opposition before a competent court which has jurisdiction to try that offence as provided by this Organic Law.” Hindrance to justice It also stipulates that the person who so wishes must do so within two months from the date he or she returns in the country and shall remain free until found guilty or not guilty. For the purpose of this Article, “escaping justice” means leaving the country after investigation has started either by the Judicial Police, the Public Prosecution or a Gacaca Court. Naphtal Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of IBUKA, told The New Times that the article should be amended as it is a hindrance to justice. “There are cases that were identified where some people were handed sentences by the Gacaca courts but when they come into the country they have such rights to move freely, and return abroad,” he said. Sometimes, he added, these people come but never return, after comprehending the gravity of the case. For other crimes such embezzlement, he said, a person who was sentenced in absentia can be arrested and imprisoned, “but for the Genocide that we consider the gravest of all crimes, people try to make it easier for the offender. We find it inappropriate.” Ahishakiye said that the person in question might be given the opportunity to appeal if they have valid reasons but they should not be treated as innocent, yet they were sentenced by Gacaca courts which were established to help the country dispense justice. “This is a gap in the justice system which should be addressed. People enact laws, and when they identify challenges during their implementation, they make amendments to them. This is an article, or law, that should be amended. If not, it would be unfair,” he said. READ ALSO: Why CNLG seeks to amend law terminating Gacaca According to information from the Ministry of Justice, after the 1994 Genocide, more than 120,000 individuals were arrested and provisionally detained for the crime of Genocide and other crimes against humanity. In order to help address the problem and expedite justice delivery, it indicated, Gacaca Courts were established – by the Organic Law of January 2001 governing the creation of Gacaca Courts and organizing the prosecution of Genocide crimes and other crimes against humanity committed between October 1, 1990 and December 31, 1994. READ ALSO: Gacaca courts achieved their objectives In 10 years of their existence, Gacaca Courts tried nearly two million Genocide related cases. Of those, more than 1.3 million cases concerned properties that were destroyed or damaged, while over 638,000 were cases related to crimes committed against people, according to data from the Ministry of Justice. This hugely contributed to the eradication of the culture of impunity and dispensation of justice to the victims.