News / Africa

    Twenty Years On, Questions of Rwandan Justice Persist

    Twenty Years On, Questions of Rwandan Justice Persisti
    X
    Emilie Iob
    April 04, 2014 5:11 PM
    As Rwandans observe the 20th anniversary of their nation's genocide, many are reflecting on the problems that have been overcome and whether justice has been adequately served. Emilie IOB reports for VOA from the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
    VIDEO: As Rwandans observe the 20th anniversary of their nation's genocide, many reflect on whether justice has been adequately served.
    At the main prison in Kigali, inmates who have been tried in court wear orange outfits. Those still awaiting trial wear pink, but they are now a minority.

    In the immediate aftermath of the 1994 genocide — in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days — there were 120,000 people accused of having taken part in the killings.

    In those first years, all the accused were to be brought before the national court system, says Balinda Anastase, coordinator at the Ministry of Justice.

    "We calculated that with an average of 1,000 people on trial per year, it would take a century just to judge the 120,000 incarcerated at the time," he says.

    To accelerate the process, a traditional community justice system was implemented in the early 2000s. At the Gacaca courts, the community elected judges to try suspects.

    But according to Anastase, there were some initial difficulties.

    "Some people were not honest in their impartiality," he says. "There were instances of witness intimidation and even murder as neighbors testified against each other. It wasn't easy. "

    Human Rights Watch and other groups were critical of the Gacaca courts' informality and lack of legal training for both judges and the defense.

    But the Rwandan government defended the system, saying this kind of community justice helped reconciliation. To aid that process, a 2008 law also reduced sentences for convicts who showed remorse and apologized for their crimes.

    Genocide Survivors Association secretary Naphtal Ahishakiye calls this something that was very important to the survivors.

    "As survivors, we benefited from the Gacaca many things. One is the truth," he says. "Because, during Gacaca, we knew what happened to our family members."

    After 10 years of operations, the Gacaca courts were closed in 2012, at which point the Rwandan government claims to have tried close to two million suspects — 65 percent of whom were convicted.

    To try the leaders of the genocide, the United Nations in 1994 set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), based in Arusha, Tanzania.

    The court has convicted 49 people of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, including former Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, who received a sentence of life in prison.

    But survivors' groups weren't pleased with all ICTR decisions: Ahishakiye says the acquittal of two generals ignored critical testimony.

    "As survivors, we have information on the part these people played in the genocide," he says. "It's the reason why [the court] ignored some facts."

    New York-based Human Rights Watch has criticized the Arusha court for being unwilling to prosecute members of RPF, Rwanda's ruling party. The ICTR is due to close down at the end of the year.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.