Reseach reveals genocide perpetrators’ viewpoint on reparation and reconciliation


Genocide inmates Gacaca Photo/Internet

As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi in April 2014 questions about justice and reconciliation become ever more relevant. Rwanda’s restorative justice process enacted by gacaca (community courts) sentenced thousands of perpetrators of genocide to pay their victims reparation (often a monetary compensation). However, many survivors have yet to receive reparation. Most perpetrators keen to make reparation are poor and unable to do so.

It is against this backdrop that this study examined the role of reparation in achieving reconciliation in Rwanda. The researcher worked in partnership with the Survivors Fund (SURF) and Association Modeste et Innocent (AMI). In-country partner organisations and a literature review revealed the need to conduct research on the perpetrators’ perspectives. Hence, the research specifically focused on the perpetrators’ viewpoint on reparation and reconciliation.

 The researcher conducted 16 semi-structured interviews with perpetrators and perpetrators’ family members responsible for reparation. This study captured the perpetrators’ characteristics and their understanding of reconciliation while also explaining the factors facilitating and hindering the role of reparation in achieving reconciliation.

The findings illustrate that reparation can lead to a more empowered and positive social identity through three inter-linked processes: dialogue, social capital bonding and bridging.The research confirms the need to address the issue of reparation possibly through the establishment of a reparation fund, as various organisations in Rwanda have suggested.

Future genocide courts need to give options besides monetary reparation. Given the success of community initiatives driven by reparation, more support for community-based organizations is needed to achieve reconciliation. 

About the Author: Ms. Iran Seyed-Raeisy is a Masters candidate at the Institute of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics

Posted by Al. G

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