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Does the Gacaca system in Rwanda provide an effective remedy in compliance with international norms and standards?

Algård, Andrea (2006)
Department of Law
Abstract
Rwanda is endeavouring to deal with its evil past of internal war and genocide to enable a peaceful future. Conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus dominate the Rwandan history. An estimated one million persons were massacred during the 1994 genocide directed against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Those who survived suffer from physical and psychological wounds. This is equally true for the survivors of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Victims and perpetrators are found among Tutsis as well as Hutus. Officially, Rwanda of today denies the existence of the two groups. Nevertheless, the divide is still strong in the minds of the Rwandan people. With the occurrence of human rights violations such as genocide, follow international and regional... (More)
Rwanda is endeavouring to deal with its evil past of internal war and genocide to enable a peaceful future. Conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus dominate the Rwandan history. An estimated one million persons were massacred during the 1994 genocide directed against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Those who survived suffer from physical and psychological wounds. This is equally true for the survivors of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Victims and perpetrators are found among Tutsis as well as Hutus. Officially, Rwanda of today denies the existence of the two groups. Nevertheless, the divide is still strong in the minds of the Rwandan people. With the occurrence of human rights violations such as genocide, follow international and regional obligations for the state in question to provide the victims with a remedy. The state obligation to provide victims of human rights violations with a remedy is included in several international and regional instruments. It is argued that at least some elements of this right form part of customary international law. Remedies may take different forms but should be proportionate to the gravity of the violation and the resulting damage. Included in the notion of an effective remedy is the victims' right to truth, justice and reparation. Truth and justice presuppose thorough investigations and a setting where people dare to tell the truth. For justice to be meaningful it has to be accessible, competent and impartial. In the case of gross human rights violations, reparation should cover both moral and material damages. Further, non-repetition and protection should be guaranteed. In case of violations by non-state actors, the state still has the obligation to provide for a remedy, including access to truth, justice and reparation. The Rwandan solution chosen to achieve justice, truth and reconciliation is the unique Gacaca system. This system draws on traditional Rwandan justice where the interaction of the community is central. Each Gacaca court consists of judges elected from within the community and all community members are obliged to participate. An estimated number of 700 000 perpetrators are to be tried by the Gacaca courts within the years to come. Although the Gacaca system signifies a big step forward in providing victims with a remedy and combating impunity it is not unproblematic. Problem areas include insufficient education and replacement of judges, practical access to justice for all victims, security for victims and witnesses, and reparation for moral damages. One major deficit is the unwillingness to deal with crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the army (mainly Tutsi) that managed to put an end to the genocide. For Rwanda to fulfil its legal obligation to provide victims of human rights violations with an effective remedy, improvements are necessary. As the situation stands today, Gacaca may well provide some victims with a remedy but that is not sufficient to discharge Rwanda's legal obligations. (Less)
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author
Algård, Andrea
supervisor
organization
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
Folkrätt
language
English
id
1555566
date added to LUP
2010-03-08 15:55:17
date last changed
2010-03-08 15:55:17
@misc{1555566,
  abstract     = {Rwanda is endeavouring to deal with its evil past of internal war and genocide to enable a peaceful future. Conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus dominate the Rwandan history. An estimated one million persons were massacred during the 1994 genocide directed against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Those who survived suffer from physical and psychological wounds. This is equally true for the survivors of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Victims and perpetrators are found among Tutsis as well as Hutus. Officially, Rwanda of today denies the existence of the two groups. Nevertheless, the divide is still strong in the minds of the Rwandan people. With the occurrence of human rights violations such as genocide, follow international and regional obligations for the state in question to provide the victims with a remedy. The state obligation to provide victims of human rights violations with a remedy is included in several international and regional instruments. It is argued that at least some elements of this right form part of customary international law. Remedies may take different forms but should be proportionate to the gravity of the violation and the resulting damage. Included in the notion of an effective remedy is the victims' right to truth, justice and reparation. Truth and justice presuppose thorough investigations and a setting where people dare to tell the truth. For justice to be meaningful it has to be accessible, competent and impartial. In the case of gross human rights violations, reparation should cover both moral and material damages. Further, non-repetition and protection should be guaranteed. In case of violations by non-state actors, the state still has the obligation to provide for a remedy, including access to truth, justice and reparation. The Rwandan solution chosen to achieve justice, truth and reconciliation is the unique Gacaca system. This system draws on traditional Rwandan justice where the interaction of the community is central. Each Gacaca court consists of judges elected from within the community and all community members are obliged to participate. An estimated number of 700 000 perpetrators are to be tried by the Gacaca courts within the years to come. Although the Gacaca system signifies a big step forward in providing victims with a remedy and combating impunity it is not unproblematic. Problem areas include insufficient education and replacement of judges, practical access to justice for all victims, security for victims and witnesses, and reparation for moral damages. One major deficit is the unwillingness to deal with crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the army (mainly Tutsi) that managed to put an end to the genocide. For Rwanda to fulfil its legal obligation to provide victims of human rights violations with an effective remedy, improvements are necessary. As the situation stands today, Gacaca may well provide some victims with a remedy but that is not sufficient to discharge Rwanda's legal obligations.},
  author       = {Algård, Andrea},
  keyword      = {Folkrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Does the Gacaca system in Rwanda provide an effective remedy in compliance with international norms and standards?},
  year         = {2006},
}