EDITORIAL: Reparations for survivors require a concerted effort

Many Genocide survivors are still struggling to come to terms with their past. Unless one was in their shoes in 1994, one would not fully comprehend how it feels to lose an entire family and expecting, anytime, to be the next on the list for marauding gangs of genocidaires.

Many Genocide survivors are still struggling to come to terms with their past. Unless one was in their shoes in 1994, one would not fully comprehend how it feels to lose an entire family and expecting, anytime, to be the next on the list for marauding gangs of genocidaires.

Despite their two decade journey littered with many obstacles, many have managed to persevere, mostly due to the government’s many programmes that escort them along the road to healing.

Apart from the over a million lives lost, many survivors also lost property and few have been compensated, courtesy of the Gacaca courts that tried nearly two million cases. The issue of reparations is a very complex one; most of the foot soldiers who carried out the bulk of the killings have no capacity to pay damages.

The architects of the Genocide, most of whom the elite of society, jumped ship after the Genocide and safely relocated to Europe and North America, out of reach of the Gacaca courts, and just a handful were indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

But the ICTR came with its flaws; when it was constituted, it left out a very vital issue; that of compensations for victims of the Genocide. But from the look of things, a light seems to be shining at the end of the tunnel.

The tribunal has at last begun to tackle the issue of reparations, despite being at the end of its lifespan, but as the saying goes; better late than never.

Victims lost nearly everything, but one thing they could not afford was hope, and whether the reparations come or not, it will not dampen their spirits. They survived to tell the story of resilience, their driving force.

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