Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

Welcome to
Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Sunday, December 18, 2011


STRATEGY 10: Truth-Telling, Justice and Memory

Rwanda has experienced violence involving horrendous human rights abuses, including genocide, since 1959 and particularly, during the early 1990s. In response to this violence, the post-genocide Government of Rwanda undertook what is arguably the most ambitious attempt in human history to bring perpetrators of atrocity to justice. The Government opted to pursue a maximal approach to accountability that aimed to identify and hold accountable each and every person who participated in mass atrocity. Rwanda has used the formal judicial system, Gacaca and international justice to deal with the genocide. These processes of transitional justice should not be an end in themselves.

The success of transitional justice processes, in Rwanda as elsewhere, can only be measured in terms of their lasting impact on the society in which they have been adopted; on whether they have contributed to consolidating the rule of law; and whether they build social cohesion and enhance prospects for long-term peace and development.

The RNC supports truth, justice and memory processes that reflect the experiences of all our people without discrimination. The RNC shares some of the concerns of many Rwandans about the processes of accountability that Rwanda has undertaken. The judicial processes that the government of Rwanda has implemented have had very many shortcomings. The attempt to investigate and prosecute each and every suspected case of genocide, in a situation where the justice system was too weak to cope with the work load, led to violations of the rights of persons accused of genocide and to the denial of fair trial rights.

Rwandan society has yet to openly address the issue of violence that victims in the Hutu community experienced during the conflicts of the 1990s. The trials that both Rwanda and the ICTR have undertaken have not been even-handed; they have dealt exclusively with the genocide and have not addressed the grievances of Hutu victims of human rights violations. Far from expressing remorse and seeking the forgiveness of the victims, most of the perpetrators of the genocide remain in denial. Instead of bringing healing and reconciliation, Gacaca has led to confrontation among victims of the genocide and the rest of their communities. By bringing victims and the rest of their communities into confrontation, Gacaca has served to enhance divisions, rather than unite communities. Victims of the genocide resent the way in which the RPF has exploited the genocide to serve its political interests and goals. The Hutu community largely perceives the transitional justice processes that Rwanda has undertaken as “victors‟ justice.”

As a result of these and other shortcomings, the processes of justice that Rwanda has undertaken have failed to achieve some of their principal objectives: eradicating a culture of impunity for gross human rights abuses; enhancing respect for human rights; promoting the rule of law; facilitating reconciliation; enhancing social cohesion; preventing conflict; and ensuring sustainable peace. The hope that justice would promote reconciliation and bring closure and healing to the victims has not been realized. In fact, Rwandan society remains deeply divided along ethnic lines and, in many ways, is collectively traumatized.

The contributions of Rwanda‟s transitional justice processes to national reconciliation have been constrained by a lack of even-handedness in the administration of justice for prior atrocities and the absence of progress in democratization. Impunity for gross human rights violations is still deeply entrenched. Rwanda‟s transition to democracy and the rule of law has been unsuccessful. The major causes of Rwanda‟s conflict (namely lack of freedom, conflict over political representation and access to power and resources) remain unresolved. Prospects for violent conflict remain high.

The Rwanda National Congress supports accountability for all human rights violations, regardless of the identity of the victims or the identity of the perpetrators of the alleged crime. The RNC also recognizes that it is not possible to investigate and prosecute all crimes that take place in a situation of mass atrocity in which large numbers of ordinary people participate and comply with applicable human rights standards. The RNC seeks, without discrimination, to ensure truth, justice and memory for all victims of the human rights violations that have taken place since 1990.

To this end, the Rwanda National Congress supports:

- The creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to establish a historical record of the Rwanda conflict that reflects the experiences of all communities of our nation
- Criminal prosecutions of persons who bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious human rights violations that have been committed during Rwanda‟s conflict since the 1990s
- Restorative justice processes for the remainder of persons who took part in committing human rights abuses during this period
- Review of cases of persons who have been tried, convicted and punished by Gacaca or national courts, where there is evidence that the accused have been victims of gross miscarriages of justice
-The provision of reparations for all victims of serious human rights violations that have been committed during Rwanda‟s conflict since 1990s
- The establishment of museums and monuments, days of remembrance and other ways and means to collectively remember, celebrate and honor all victims of all human rights abuses that have taken place in Rwanda
- The development of positive expressions of gratitude to past leaders who contributed to the social, economic and political development of a progressive, modern, and democratic Rwanda.

The RNC recommends that the government that will prepare the country for transition to democracy should organize a national dialogue on the aforementioned proposals as a matter of urgency. The RNC also recognizes that the transformation of war-torn, deeply-divided societies with histories of gross human rights abuses, into democratic, peaceful and stable states is a process fraught with difficult challenges. Accountability for past atrocities is a critical component of strategies to facilitate such transformation.

However, justice, whatever its form, must ensure the rule of law and be the insurer of peace and stability. Reform of political governance systems is ultimately more essential to the process of building more cohesive, peaceful and stable societies in the aftermath of mass atrocity. Transitional justice processes are unlikely to achieve their intended objectives if they are not part of a wider process that addresses the root causes of a country‟s conflict.

No comments: