Scholars say Gacaca more effective than the ICTR
GASABO - A book about Justice, reconstruction and reconciliation 15 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was yesterday launched at a local hotel.
‘After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond” was edited by Dr. Phil Clark and Zachary Kaufman.
The preface of the book was written by President Paul Kagame.
“The terrible impact of the Genocide is felt not just in Rwanda; it has afflicted the whole region and it should serve as a lesson to the world that turned its back on Rwanda in its hour of greatest need,” Kagame wrote.
Speaking at the launch of the book, Dr. Alfred Ndahiro, speaking on behalf of the Office of the President, commended the book’s launch saying it is timely as the country begins the commemoration of the Genocide.
“While we commemorate the Genocide and the loss of our loved ones, we acknowledge and take pride in what we have achieved in the last 15 years. We are convinced that with more resilience and concerted efforts, we can achieve even more” said Ndahiro.
The scholars from Oxford University in the UK who conducted comprehensive research on the situation in Rwanda, also discussed a number of topics which included Justice in Rwanda.
Speaking at the Symposium“15 years After Genocide: Where now for Rwanda?” which coincided with the launch, one of the Scholars, Phil Clark, admitted that Gacaca Courts have had a greater impact than the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).
While discussing a topic on Justice, Reconciliation and the impact of Gacaca during a symposium, Clark said that the semi-traditional courts commonly known as Gacaca have done a more dynamic job to bring Genocide perpetrators to justice.
Clark, who has done extensive research on Gacaca, said that the courts have been extremely successful and have helped the country deal with the excess stock of Genocide cases.
Asked to compare the achievement of the ICTR with those of Gacaca, Clark said that Gacaca has had greater impact because it operates on the grass roots and depends on the truth as told by locals than its Arusha-based counterpart.
Clark also noted that he has interviewed local people and there is no doubt that the population is convinced that Gacaca Courts are capable of providing justice, find out the truth and also be a tool for reconciliation.
He continued saying that despite many challenges hampering the courts performance such as funding, Gacaca which loosely translates into ‘Justice on the Grass’, has achieved extraordinary milestones and compared to the UN Tribunal which has spent over US$ one billion every year since its inception, the local courts will leave behind a very positive legacy.
He also criticised Human Rights activists who condemn Gacaca as being insensitive and not paying attention to the issues on the ground. He noted that the courts which use community ‘lawyers and judges’ are capable of handling Category One cases which had been a major concern.
“The ICTR set itself out to fail. It did not only fail to meet the expectations of the people, but also lied saying that it is assigned with the task of promoting reconciliation. They should have concentrated on justice” Clark said.
The Symposium also attended by ICTR officials was organised by Oxford University in conjunction with the Rotary Club Kigali-Virunga.