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Rwanda using Gacaca courts to resolve War Crimes


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I just came back from a 10-day work trip to Rwanda where I met with NGOs and development workers. One interesting area i learned about was how the Rwandan government is processing war criminals from the 1994 Genocide.

I thought you'd find it interesting that processing war crimes in Rwanda has moved away from a Westernized judge and jury trial in favour of Gacaca (pronounced Gachacha). Gacaca is the traditional community method of exacting justice. Basically all of the community members witness the criminal recounting his crimes..so in this case he/she is being asked the names of the family members he killed and how. The community then serves discipline of some kind (community service in alot of cases) and works on reconciliation.

It was a necessity in Rwanda because over 100,000 Hutus were in jail awaiting trial, and that would've taken decades to process.

The reconciliation part is important not only for stability but also because, as 99% of the world's anthropologists have pointed out, Hutus and Tutsis are the exact same people. There are no genetic, cultural or religious differences at all. I went to the Genocide memorial and read some of the background to how these groups came to be....one theory suggested that belgian missionaries classified "any man with 10 cows or greater" as Tutsi and anyone else as Hutu. Experts in the field would ask why, during the genocide, Hutu militiamen needed to see Tutsi identity cards to know they were Tutsi?

The 1994 genocide was the only case of pronounced, public genocide where racially equally people killed their own under seemingly false pretenses. Thanks Missionaries...great success!

Here's some Wikipedia about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gacaca_court

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