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Gacaca in Rwanda

The 1994 Rwandan genocide has come to be known as one of the darkest periods in the history of the world. Fifteen years later the Rwandan government is still dealing with the legacy of the appalling accounts. The plight for justice is not an easy one; reconciliation must accompany it ultimately for genuine peace. Genocide laws were passed categorising criminals into four main groups.

The first lot consists of those suspected to have planned, instigated, led or supervised the genocide. The second comprises of those suspected to have participated in physical acts that caused the death of others. The third group consists of those who participated in assaults that did not lead to the death of any individuals. The fourth encompasses those who took advantage of the chaos and took the opportunity to loot and engage in activities that led to the destruction of property.The Gacaca tribunals were formed as an alternative to national justice system. The killing of many judges and prosecutors in the skirmishes led to the destruction of the country’s judicial infrastructure. These tribunals deal largely with the suspects that fall under the second and fourth category. These people make up the bulk of the genocide perpetrators. The situation in Rwanda is such that the number of suspects almost match the number of victims. This means that the number of people on trial meet sums that are unfathomable.

Gacaca derives its name from a type of short grass named Umacaca. There is the school of thought...

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