Closing Gacaca─analysing Rwanda’s challenges with regard to the end of Gacaca courts
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In Rwanda, Gacaca courts, community-based traditional courts, were alternative solution of dealing with the legacy of genocide after the failure of modern model of justice. In 2012, Gacaca courts were repealed by the Organic Law 04 of 2012. These courts left behind a large number of cases which include, inter alia, suspects ranged within first category, new cases of those who were or will be extradited from ICTR or other countries, thousands of perpetrators tried in absentia while abroad that have the right to file opposition as well as applications for review lodged against their judgements. Today, all of these cases fall under the jurisdiction of ordinary courts along with ordinary criminal and civil litigations. This causes practical challenges of inability of domestic courts to deal with the huge number of cases. Besides, the organic Law 04 of 2012 that terminates Gacaca courts provides mechanisms to deal with other issues related to the end of Gacaca courts. However, these mechanisms result in unequal treatment of genocide suspects and violate the victims’ rights. This may lead to qualify this law as discriminatory and unjust provision. Furthermore, this law remains silent vis-à-vis the issue of enforcement of sentences rendered against those tried in absentia while abroad and the issue of reparations. Despite the mechanisms set forth to deal with all those cases and other issues left behind by Gacaca courts, serious challenges remain. Confronting these challenges needs international cooperation to bring genocide perpetrators to trial, administrative schemes for reparations as well as legal harmonisation to adapt the domestic legislation to the post-Gacaca situation.