Justice Compromised: The Legacy of Rwanda's Community-Based Gacaca Courts

Sunday, May 1, 2011
Central Africa

I. Summary

II. Recommendations

  • To the Rwandan Government
  • To Rwandan Justice Officials
  • To the Rwandan Legislature
  • To Donors
  • To Countries Considering the Use of Dispute Resolution Mechanisms Similar to Gacaca to Prosecute Serious Crimes

III. Methodology

IV. The Rwandan Genocide and the Decision to Use Gacaca

V. The Initial Phase of Gacaca

  • Differences between the Customary and Contemporary Gacaca Systems
  • The Legal Framework Governing Genocide Cases and Gacaca Courts
  • Gacaca's Pilot Phase
  • National Implementation of Gacaca
  • Repeated Extensions of Gacaca's Closing Date
  • The Final Phase of Gacaca

VI. Balancing Community-Based Conflict Resolution Practices with Fair Trial Standards

  • Limited International Fair Trial Rights in Gacaca
  • Differences in Judicial Standards between Conventional Courts and Gacaca
  • Sentencing and Reparations

VII. The Community Dynamic of Gacaca

  • Community Participation
  • Risks for Witnesses
  • Gacaca as a Means of Resolving Personal Grievances
  • Silencing Opponents and Critical Voices

VIII. Independence and Impartiality of the Gacaca Process

  • Potential Conflicts of Interest for Judges
  • Corruption and Personal Gain through Gacaca
  • External Interference in Decision-Making

IX. Rape Cases: the Antithesis of Gacaca

  • The Decision to Transfer Rape Cases to Gacaca
  • Rape Cases that Were Not Brought before Gacaca
  • Rape Victims' Perspectives on Gacaca

X. Selective Justice and the Failure to Address Rwandan Patriotic Front Crimes

XI. Perspectives on Gacaca

  • Genocide Survivors' Perspectives
  • The Perspectives of Those Accused of Genocide and their Families
  • Reconciliation Achieved?

XII. International Support for Gacaca

XIII. Conclusion

Annex I. Letter to the Rwandan Minister of Justice from Human Rights Watch, March 30, 2011

Annex II. Response to Human Rights Watch from the Rwandan Minister of Justice, May 5 2011


Document PDF: 

Justice Compromised The Legacy of Rwandas Community Based Gacaca Court