The impossible math of gacaca justice in Rwanda

17 March 2007 by Louis Martin Rugendo

Two years after the official March 10, 2005 start date for genocide trials before gacaca (community) courts, nearly 60,000 decisions have been rendered. This impressive figure, however, represents only 7% of those being prosecuted in Rwanda. And yet, the government has announced gacaca trials will finish at the end of 2007.

In mid-2002, when pilot, pre-trial proceedings began in 10% of gacaca courts, Rwandan authorities stated that gacaca would take five years. But it then took three years for the first trials to start in those pilot jurisdictions, and it was only in July 2006 that trials finally began throughout the entire country. So, while the Rwandan government repeats its desire to see gacaca trials completed in nine months, the math alone seems impossible.

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