Rwanda experienced horrific Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994. In its aftermath, national and international trials were established but these trials failed to deal expeditiously with the large numbers of suspects awaiting trial.
To combat this, Rwanda introduced an innovative participative justice mechanism, Gacaca. Modern Gacaca is based on a traditional Rwandan restorative justice mechanism of the same name.
Its rooting in Rwanda’s history makes Gacaca a much more acceptable form of justice to the Rwandan people than international trials given the international community’s abandonment of Rwanda during the genocide.
While Gacaca falls short of many international fair trial standards it remains Rwanda’s best hope as a wholly Rwandan process.
But, Gacaca is more than just a judicial instrument, it has restorative justice at its origin and seeks, as its ultimate aim, to reconcile Rwanda’s divided communities.
To reach this aim, Gacaca has several other objectives including discovering the truth of what happened in 1994, ending impunity which has plagued Rwanda since independence and allowing the Rwandan population to participate in the search for justice at a local level.
Research studies reveal the importance of these aims to Gacaca and whether the Gacaca courts are meeting their optimistic objectives in order to evaluate whether Gacaca is succeeding in Rwanda.
Research was conducted through interviews throughout Rwanda and much civil society research was studied as well as material discussing the objectives from a more conceptual perspective.
Gacaca’s potential is outstanding and its objectives all play a very important role which, if met, will secure a much more stable future for Rwanda.