gacaca

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06 February 2006 by Louis-Martin Rugendo

The start of gacaca trials throughout Rwanda, slated for the beginning of 2006, will be delayed by the local and municipal elections scheduled for February and March, indicated the Rwandan authorities in early January. Inaugurated three years ago, and having opened the first trials nearly a year ago, only 10% of the 10,000 people’s courts have entered the trial phase. Since March 2005, 118 gacaca courts have handed down 4,000 decisions. And while 120,000 prosecution cases are waiting to come before the judges, it is estimated that 700,000 people, nearly a tenth of the population, are currently free but could have to face charges before a gacaca court. But under what circumstances?

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Former Khmer Rouge minister Ieng Thirith, charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and breaches of the Geneva Conventions, appears at a pretrial hearing at the Cambodia tribunal in 2010. (Photo: Flickr/ECCC POOL/Tang Chhin Sothy)
20 May 2015 by Benjamin Duerr, The Hague (The Netherlands)

In the Holocaust, women conducted medical experiments and guarded concentration camps. During the Rwandan genocide, they managed roadblocks and burned buildings with people inside. Women have been involved in almost every type of mass violence, a recent Dutch study has found. Still, the number who are prosecuted and convicted is significantly lower than men.

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Former Khmer Rouge minister Ieng Thirith, charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and breaches of the Geneva Conventions, appears at a pretrial hearing at the Cambodia tribunal in 2010. (Photo: Flickr/ECCC POOL/Tang Chhin Sothy)
20 May 2015

IJT 182 explores how so-called chivalrous beliefs and practices may be behind the rare prosecution of female war crimes suspects.

Other features:

  • A tug-of-war between Uganda and DRC over the extradition of Jamil Mukulu highlights trouble with judicial cooperation in Africa.
  • Colombian and Guatemalan survivors of sexual violence during their countries' armed conflicts fight for justice.
  • The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement tries to excise Balkan suspects of war crimes.

News brief:

  • A trial date for Chadian ex-dictator Hissène Habré has finally been set.
     
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13 January 2010 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Fifteen years on, Rwandans are still reliving the genocide. Every week, scores of people around the country attend the community-based Gacaca trials of alleged génocidaires in their communities.

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11 April 2008 by J. COLL METCALFE

As she makes her way down the hill to the field she is preparing for planting, Anastasia Mukaruteke greets her neighbors with smiles. It is only when they are out of earshot that Anastasia drops the facade. "Killers, every one of them," she says. "Some of them even killed my family, but I pretend not to know because I don't want any trouble."

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29 March 2005 by Mary Kimani

The first trials before Rwanda's gacaca courts finally opened on 10 March. Almost three years after their official launch, the courts, made up of locally elected judges from a district or hill, read out their first verdicts for people suspected of participating in the genocide. The most notable fact was the summoning of several hundred local administrative leaders before the courts. 

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21 February 2005 by Thierry Cruvellier

Every year, the run-up to the annual commemoration of the Rwandan genocide that began on April 1994, generates a flurry of legal activity. This year is no different, with a number of complaints lodged last year continuing or being repeated in 2005. Last week in Spain and France, NGOs from opposing political camps announced they were filing new complaints, while in Rwanda, the start of the gacaca trials is now set for March.

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25 April 2005 by Mary Kimani

Within two weeks of Gacaca restarting its operations in March, three of the community courts have summoned three high Rwandan dignitaries - Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, Minister of Defense General Marcel Gatsinzi, and the prefect of Ruhengeri province in northern Rwanda, Boniface Rucagu - to answer charges relating to the 1994 genocide. Gatsinzi and Rucagu are directly accused of taking part in the genocide. The appearance of these important Hutu officials, who became members of the governing Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has sparked debate. Some see it as the determination of ordinary Rwandans to prise answers from everyone, even from prominent Hutus who have been successfully integrated into the government. Others see it as a ploy to tarnish the reputation of the few remaining Hutu leaders.

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23 May 2005 by Mary Kimani

Since trials began at the gacaca courts on 10 March, over 600 verdicts have been delivered. This is an impressive result, but one that has not been achieved easily. Attendance is proving a constant problem. For a hearing to be valid, the courts require a quorum of at least nine judges and a hundred members of the community. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has also signalled a new problem: thousands of Rwandans have started fleeing to neighbouring countries to avoid standing trial.

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24 October 2005 by Louis-Martin Rugendo

Officially begun on March 10, 2005, Rwanda's community-based gacaca courts are facing major difficulties and ambiguities. Expectations for the gacaca are divergent, to say the least, and the main challenges for these courts include: lack of resources, political interference, lack of qualified judges and the complexity of the cases being tried. Six months later, only 10% of the gacaca have begun trials and Rwandans are testing the impact of these courts.

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