URUGWIRO VILLAGE - A group of visiting Danish university students says they have been impressed by the country’s systems, including the Gacaca jurisdiction, as they wrap up a week-long study tour.
Marie Kruse, speaking on behalf of the 30 Political Science students from Denmark’s Copenhagen University revealed this after their long and all-embracing meeting with President Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village yesterday.
“We have been impressed actually, the whole Rwandan system seems very aware of where they are and where they want to go, and also the people as well. They seem to be very determined to be reconciled,” Kruse said.
“We attended the fifteenth commemoration of the genocide and people seem very determined and together about where they want to go. We were very impressed by the awareness of the institutions, the Rwanda government and the way the country works.”
The students came to the country with an objective of understanding and learning more about it, first-hand – especially the judicial and education systems.
“We have come to Rwanda to learn more about the period after 1994 and to be educated not only about how you have been rebuilding the country but also how the past is impacting on the future – how Rwanda sees the vision for the future not only in Rwanda but in the region.”
Kruse noted that the Gacaca court system is effective.
“Before we left Denmark, we were trying to compare the ICTR and Gacaca, but we’ve learnt that it is two different things and they have different purposes and, I think that our impression is that Gacaca is really effective in reconciling in other ways than what the criminal tribunal can do.”
Unlike the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Gacaca courts are a system of semi-traditional community justice established in 2001 to deal with the backlog of cases of Genocide suspects.
“It (Gacaca) is a personal court system, it is more Rwandese and that is very important. I think that it is the country’s own system if you may say,” said Kruse.
Since Monday, they visited many institutions, talking to pertinent officials. They visited the Belgian embassy, Gacaca, the East African Community (EAC) Affairs ministry, and the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) secretariat. Others include ICTR, MONUC and the Education ministry.
“So far it has been amazing. We have had a lot of meetings and appreciate the hospitality,” said Kruse, who was also upbeat on the meeting with the President.
“It was really nice. We were surprised that he would meet with us for really long. We are so happy.”
Before leaving the country on Saturday, they are expected to visit the National University of Rwanda in the Southern Province and the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
The EAC bloc is another of their key interests and they intend to visit neighbouring Uganda thereafter.