Opinion

Post-Gacaca property compensations for survivors: A missed opportunity for Reconciliation in Rwanda

In this article Albert Gasake, the Legal Advocacy Coordinator at SURF and Justice Commissioner at GAERG, explores the problems that persist for survivors in obtaining adequate and meaningful compensation for material assets that were lost during and as a result of the genocide. The failings of the Gacaca court system, which closed in 2012, are considered along with the shortcomings of the succeeding legislation that was intended to address unresolved issues of compensation.

Watch this video here http://vimeo.com/59506767
Maria, a genocide widow, discusses her battle for compensation for her destroyed property

The value of the Travaux d’Intérêts Généraux (TIG) initiative that was first introduced by the Gacaca courts is considered, and the paper questions whether this community service scheme is in fact diverting compensatory measures for survivors into public works as part of a programme of nationalization. The lack of impact that TIG has on the living circumstances of survivors is related with respect to the imminent report of the Prime Minister’s Special Committee on Gacaca . The remit of this Committee is examined in the paper and concludes that its task is not only unfeasible but that failure to achieve it may jeopordise the chances for future settlement of compensation issues.

The paper also draws on informative evidence gathered by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission’s surveys and community dialogue programmes, which illustrate survivors’ fears about the inadequacies of the compensation processes.

The paper recognizes that Reparation may not certainly solve all the problems of survivors, but it will at least deliver a degree of restorative justice for survivors and improve their lives that continue to be severely affected by the pervasive consequences of the genocide.

The paper concludes that the efforts since the genocide to address compensation for survivors have been largely inadequate and that this is hampering the process of reconciliation in Rwandan society.  Gasake argues that further study is necessary in order to establish a reparation system that can be seen as effective, particularly by survivors themselves, and that the need for this is timely in the approach to the twentieth anniversary of the genocide in 2014, as the momentum to compensate survivors appears to be faltering.

He finally advises that if reconciliation is truly possible, it will only be built on this foundation of complete justice. Read full article here

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