By DANIEL SABIITI SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in the EASTAFRICAN http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/
Kigali 18.04.2014/ Ibuka has released a report indicating that at least 168 genocide survivors, were killed between 2002 and 2014, in what is believed to be an attempt to stop them from giving evidence on the planning and execution of the 1994 genocide.
It has been two decades since the Genocide Against the Tutsi, which claimed the lives of more than a million people and left the country in ruins in just 100 days.
While the first decade after the killings focused on rebuilding and laying a new foundation for the nation, including restoring the rule of law, which saw the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2003, the second decade has been putting the country on the road to prosperity.
In order to expedite the delivery of justice, the government turned to the traditional Gacaca court system. Gacaca, meaning “justice on the grass,” combines traditional justice system with the modern one, with the aim of achieving truth, justice and reconciliation within a short time.
Upon their winding up in 2012, over 100,000 suspects had been tried and cases dispensed with for crimes of genocide.
A new research finding by the umbrella organisation for genocide survivors, Ibuka, has released a report indicating that at least 168 genocide survivors, were killed between 2002 and 2014, in what is believed to be an attempt to stop them from giving evidence on the planning and execution of the 1994 genocide.
Albert Gasake, Ibuka’s legal representative and member of the organisation’s board says that the organisation is compiling a list of the genocide survivors killed within that period, and forward it to the relevant authorities for appropriate action.
Ibuka president Dr Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, said this is intended to bring to justice those who have been implicated in these crimes against genocide survivors.
“Our intention as is usual, is to advocate for issues that concern the genocide survivors, be it education, health or security. We have gathered data on this issue and intend to forward it to the security organs and other relevant institutions to follow up these cases,” Dr Dusingizemungu said.
However, Dr Dusingizemungu said the findings are alarming because there have been some efforts to stop killings of genocide survivors and some suspects have been charged.
Prosecutor general, Richard Muhumuza said cases of genocide witnesses being killed have been prosecuted accordingly, but the new research findings can be used to follow up on the cases to ascertain the motives of the killings.
He said there is a need to review how the cases were handled to find the connection between them and the killings.
“It’s unfortunate that some people had to lose their lives because of speaking out the truth of what they saw happen during the genocide, at the expense of those who want to trivialise genocide, but the prosecution will do everything possible to ensure that justice is served,” Mr Muhumuza said.
One of the primary intentions behind Gacaca was to air truths about the events of the genocide. The process targeted petty crimes, since “the big fish” were tried at the ICTR or through the national court system.
The meetings were designed to allow victims and eye-witnesses to be heard, and ultimately to decide on a punishment for the perpetrator. Gacaca created a particularly open, yet controlled space for understanding what took place during the 1994 genocide.
The government claims that Gacaca was a mechanism by which the country could rebuild a sense of national unity. The courts engaged much of the population in a post-genocide rebuilding process and community-level dialogue.
Judges and government officials were involved, but, ultimately, the outcome of Gacaca relied on people’s participation, engagement, and trust in the process.
According to the National University survey, 87 per cent of a sample made of 3,527 people believes that Gacaca helped strengthen justice, reconciliation and has expedited genocide trials. While 95 per cent believe that it had demonstrated Rwandans’ ability to innovatively solve their own problems.
Asterie Mukarutakwa, a genocide survivor says that Gacaca was useful in confronting genocide perpetrators and she was able to speak freely and openly at Gacaca gatherings and tell the truth of what happened during the genocide but also help her children’s murderer who was HIV positive.
Under the Gacaca courts, genocide suspects who voluntarily accepted the crimes they committed received lesser sentences under the Work for General Interest (TIG) programme.
However, a number of cases remain unresolved as it has emerged that some convicts have appealed the sentences. During a fact-finding mission recently, a House committee was told that most convicts had applied for review of their sentences. End
POSTED HERE BY Albert Gasake
Categories: Survivors security