Genocide widows concerned over post-gacaca compensation
After the gacaca courts were officially closed last year, Genocide widows have expressed concerns over the challenges they are facing in receiving compensation form seized properties of convicts. This ruling was to be implemented after the official closing of the courts.
Last week, voluntary paralegals from the Association of Widows of the Genocide against the Tutsis (AVEGA) held a meeting in which they discussed the challenges that Genocide survivors encounter after the gacaca courts closed.
Challenges in the gacaca rulings enforcement are diverse. In addition to many other challenges, some local authorities in charge of enforcing gacaca rulings are allegedly bribed in order to avoid compensating victims.
Jacqueline Bakamurera, the assistant attorney general in charge of Legal Aid and Human Rights, said that these local authorities have to be monitored, and that there has been another Maison de la Justice (MAJ) service set up to execute the gacaca rulings.
Apart from local authorities, there are widows who have no gacaca court rulings documents, and others whose documents are not well done. According to AVEGA statistics, more than 8,000 cases are not enforced, more than 500 cases owners have no gacaca ruling documents, and more than 600 have ruling documents that are incomplete or not well done.
As a result, Bakamurera says that the statistics from the court decisions do not match the reality at the ground.
“We are doing our best to identify the problems. If there are some officials who enforced the gacaca rulings and kept the money, the law is established to punish them. It is a crime which is penalized,” she said.
The paralegals have shown that even when the court ruling is executed, the amount of money attainable from the sale of a convict’s property is reduced by taxes and other deductions, like remaining mortgage payments to banks. After all these deductions, there is little left to compensate the many survivors.
Bakamurera explained that the law allows people to share the amount rewarded after bank and tax deductions.
The problem with post-gacaca compensation has been an issue since just after the gacaca was officially closed last year. In January, the Prime Minister’s special committee was established to address all issues related to the property rights of survivors, including gacaca compensation rulings that have not yet been enforced.
AVEGA’s Paralegals are Genocide survivors who received trainings on law to help raise awareness on legal issues in the community. Odette Kayirere, the executive Secretary of the AVEGA, said these voluntary paralegals play a big role in sensitizing the community to understand their rights and to know which laws empower them.
“There are some widows who are not aware of their rights, these paralegals help them so much,” she said.
There are now about 1,000 voluntary paralegals across the country that help Genocide survivors learn which process to follow for their cases executions and other legal rights
First appeared in the Rwanda Focus
Posted by Al.G
- IBUKA Press Release: Roundtable Discussion, 28 June 2013 (justicetosurvivors.wordpress.com)
- The Rwandan Genocide of 1994: What Remains When a Country is Killed? (thoughtsfromthemiddleseat.com)
- The dilemma of children born of rape in the 1994 Genocide (justicetosurvivors.wordpress.com)