EDITORIAL: Compensation for Genocide crimes should have no expiry date

Coming to terms with the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and finding closure is very difficult. Its brutality and efficiency was unequalled and unimaginable, and even to this day, people wonder what had befallen those behind the massacres.

Coming to terms with the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and finding closure is very difficult.

Its brutality and efficiency was unequalled and unimaginable, and even to this day, people wonder what had befallen those behind the massacres.

 

The killers were not content with just killing the Tutsi, they wanted to erase them and anything associated with them. Property was destroyed either through fire or demolitions.

 

They went as far as ripping out foundations of buildings to obliterate any signs of their existence. That is how heinous the Genocide against the Tutsi was.

 

Since survivors of the Genocide could not bring back their dead, their only consolation was to see justice being done.

With the numbers involved in the killings, it was impossible to try suspects in conventional courts, that’s when it was decided to opt for the traditional restorative judicial system, Gacaca.

By the time the Gacaca courts shut their doors five years ago, 1.9 million cases had been tried. 1.2 million of them involved destroyed property.

One outcome of the Gacaca cases was compensation for destroyed property which many are yet to receive today.

So it is quite disconcerting that the government is planning to put a moratorium on compensation for the end of this year.

The crime of Genocide is imprescriptible; it had no end-by date.  Whenever a suspect will be arrested – even 30 or more years from now – he or she will face justice. So why should compensation be given a time limit?

In addition, some perpetrators who were ordered to pay compensation either fled or were in no position to do so. What if the person who fled returns or the latter falls on good fortunes, is it not fair for them to fulfill their obligations?

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