"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


on RPF crimes & gacaca

I think this failure to deal with RPF crimes is one of the biggest problems that the gacaca process has brought up. It’s not talked about a lot in the literature on gacaca, but the population discusses RPF crimes explicitly during many gacaca trials. You have an RPF government, which is obviously very worried about people talking about RPF crimes in open spaces. But, especially on the periphery of Rwanda, gacaca has created a space where the population regularly talks about RPF crimes in a very public and comprehensive way. This is quite revolutionary in terms of Rwandan politics. The problem is that as people have talked about these crimes openly, there has been an expectation or a hope that gacaca would also prosecute RPF crimes – and that hasn’t happened. A great deal of frustration has been borne out by this process. It means that, in the long term, gacaca hasn’t delivered even-handed justice. It has been very comprehensive in terms of dealing with genocide crimes but has, in a prosecutorial sense, not dealt with the other side of the equation. This is a running sore for the Hutu majority, and the legacy of it will be that much of the Hutu population will look back on gacaca and see it as one-sided justice. In my opinion, there is no doubt that this will harm the long-term cause of reconciliation.
That's from a fascinating three-part interview with Phil Clark of SOAS on Rwanda's gacaca court system and other transitional justice issues at Think Africa Press. Well worth a read. (HT: @kigaliwire)


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