n African Security Review - Between justice and reconciliation : the survivors of Rwanda : Africa watch

Volume 16, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1024-6029
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This article examines the dilemmas of post-genocide Rwanda, where society finds itself caught between justice and reconciliation. One of the major challenges for Rwandans today is to engender reconciliation in a deeply wounded nation and do justice to both victims and perpetrators. It is difficulty to affirm the victims, punish the perpetrators and at the same time bring about reconciliation between them. Yet there are unequivocal claims, especially from the victims, that there can be no justice without reparation and there can be no reconciliation without justice. To bring about justice and reconciliation, the Gacaca process was put in place, but it has turned out to be a source of fear for the perpetrators, who are desperate to bury the evidence by intimidating the survivors, and for the survivors, who are now living in fear of their lives. Consequently, the rising insecurity of survivors has become a matter of national concern, and the challenges to the Gacaca process are threatening to hamper its progress. But this apparently is the only viable justice system for communities to carry out trials at community level, for it was there that the crime of genocide was committed in a mass-killing frenzy. Truth telling and confessions by perpetrators, and forgiveness by victims have been identified as crucial steps towards reconciliation, but the dilemma lies in the inherent contradictions in the application of these concepts: truth, confession and forgiveness.

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