Author(s): Phillip Drew
This paper was originally published in the Canadian Access to Justice Network. One of the first articles written on the subject of Gacaca, it was awarded the Prize for Alternative Dispute Resolution by the Minister for Justice of Canada in 2000.
In the paper, Drew explores the troubles in Rwanda as an example of the difficulties that confront countries as they transition from ethnic violence into a post-conlict and post-genocide framework. Specifically, how can they acknowledge and deal with past wrongs, especially in ways that offer hope for social rebuilding and reconciliation? Drew summarizes the genocidal terror that wracked Rwanda in 1994 and the various post-conflict efforts (national and international) to illuminate the wrongs committed and hold perpetrators accountable. His discussion includes aspects of ethnicity, culture, and legal traditions and developments in Rwanda that contributed to the violence and to complexities in the post-terror period in dealing with perpetrators and victims of the violence. Significant attention is given to a recommendation from a National Reconciliation Commission that Rwanda adopt the traditional Gacaca – a form of mediation performed by a village council of elders to promote justice and reconciliation at the communal level.