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The Legacy of the Gacaca Courts in Rwanda: Survivors’ Views

In: International Criminal Law Review
Authors:
Anne-Marie de Brouwer Associate Professor of International Criminal Law, Department of Criminal Law, and Research Fellow, INTERVICT, Tilburg University, the Netherlands

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Etienne Ruvebana PhD Researcher, Department of Constitutional Law and International Law, University of Groningen, the Netherlands

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Gacaca, the local courts in Rwanda, officially closed on 18 June 2012. In this contribution, the legacy of the gacaca courts is studied by looking at what the gacaca courts have achieved or may not have achieved against the objectives it was set up for in the first place from the perspective of genocide survivors. Twenty-eight interviews with genocide survivors provide insight into how changing circumstances (e.g. passing of time, better understanding of the workings of the gacaca courts, improved security situation, increased level of the most basic (material and psychological) needs, and role of teachings about forgiveness on individual and societal reconciliation) may influence the way survivors of international crimes evaluate gacaca. In the second part of this article, the question of how to move on now that gacaca courts have officially closed down is discussed, including the still unresolved issue of reparation to genocide survivors.

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