The recent release of a report on the Gacaca Jurisdictions by Human Rights Watch (Rwanda: Justice Compromised, May 31, 2011) followed by the understandable dismay of our Justice Minister (Gacaca report misleading – Gov’t, June 8, 2011) at the misleading nature of the HRW report is reason to reflect on two things; (a) judging from our Minister’s reaction, we are showing the world that we care what HRW says and, (b) HRW “seems” intent on hijacking Rwanda’s rightful ownership of the Gacaca process.
Certain projects require “high priority status” and the Rwandan Government’s report on Gacaca should be one of them. Publicising the closure of the Gacaca process without an official report is neither pro-active nor efficient.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Government of Rwanda to shine, have impact and teach the world about our transitional and reconciliatory Justice model that even the HRW report admits, albeit begrudgingly, was a unique and ingenious solution to an “at the time” insurmountable problem.
The National Commission of Gacaca Jurisdictions has done a commendable job and is currently preparing a final report to be released later this year which, as they say, has already been “thrown under the bus” and risks being viewed only as reactive.
Of course, the Gacaca process is and will always be fully owned by Rwandans but the timing of our report’s release was and is of the essence and epitomises efficiency. Let’s beat them at their own game next time and we will not be “disappointed” by their secondary reports.
New York City, USA