Gacaca promoted reconciliation – Canadian don

KIGALI -Rwanda’s traditional Gacaca courts, greatly contributed to the reconciliation efforts following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, a top Canadian human rights activist has said.Gordon Echenberg, the founder of McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellowship Network, was speaking to reporters, on Tuesday, at the closure of a two-day McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellows meeting in Kigali.
(L-R) Faustin Bismarck of Echenberg Human Rights Fellowship, Salma Mohammed - Ghana and  Rosebell Kagumire - Uganda during the meeting. The New Times / Timothy Kisambira
(L-R) Faustin Bismarck of Echenberg Human Rights Fellowship, Salma Mohammed - Ghana and Rosebell Kagumire - Uganda during the meeting. The New Times / Timothy Kisambira

KIGALI - Rwanda’s traditional Gacaca courts, greatly contributed to the reconciliation efforts following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, a top Canadian human rights activist has said.

Gordon Echenberg, the founder of McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellowship Network, was speaking to reporters, on Tuesday, at the closure of a two-day McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellows meeting in Kigali.

McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellowship is a Canadian-based network of young professionals committed to the advancement of human rights at the local, national and global levels. It is affiliated to McGill University in Montreal.

“Since these courts were revolved around telling the truth, these gave an opportunity for the accused to narrate what exactly happened and this healed the wounds of the genocide survivors,” he said.

Echenberg mentioned that he was totally impressed by Rwandans ability to go back to their roots and solve the cases amicably.

He observed that the Gacaca courts handled a backlog of cases which even the legal system in Canada could not handle.

Gacaca courts have so far tried 1.5 million cases involving rapists, those who killed or intended to kill and their accomplices, as well as torture, incitement and property-related cases, while high level leaders and genocide organisers are tried in conventional courts.

Speaking to The New Times, Faustin Murangwa Bismarck, a Rwandan and fellow at McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellowship said that the Kigali meeting aimed at providing an opportunity for eight McGill Echenberg Human Rights Fellows currently working in Africa to collectively address local and regional human rights concerns with a focus on governance.

“The Echenberg family human rights conferences are designed to translate academic discussion of human rights issues into practical day-to-day policies for the benefit of the general population,” he noted.

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