Reparations

Compensation of Genocide survivors should be top of the agenda

Our Analysis

Better late than never! The New Times Rwanda published two consecutive articles on the need to provide reparation for survivors.  It is very encouraging that the state media is now covering sensitive topics such as reparation for survivors. The issue of reparations including compensation  was considered as a taboo subject in the Rwandan pro- state media. Survivors organisations have been campaigning for a reparation fund for over two decades. Their call remained unheeded and some times categorically rejected by the government of Rwanda via the ministry of Justice. As a result, many survivors especially elderly, those who have been raped, and those who were severely handicapped during the genocide  passed away before they receive  justice in form of reparation. The biggest problem was and remains only one—The Government’s political will to set up the framework for reparation.

Kigali 21/03/2015, by New Times Rwanda: When the Gacaca courts closed their doors in 2012, close to two million suspects of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi had passed through its system.

The Genocide was not just about physical elimination of the Tutsi, it went far beyond; the killers went as far as trying to eliminate their very existence by destroying their homes and banana plantations and killing their animals.

The scars that were left by the Genocide have not gone away. Stark reminders of where once stood a home and its inhabitants are abandoned homesteads with twenty-year old trees sprouting out of what were once bedrooms.

Survivors have for the past two decades been busy trying to piece their lives together, and any hope of being compensated for their loss has slowly ebbed away as court orders to that effect have fallen on deaf ears.

Some high profile cases of prominent personalities, such as Frodouard Karamira, one of the architects of the Genocide, ended with the court ordering that his victims be compensated from his vast property. The orders remained a dead letter and that was 15 years ago.

While it is understandable that the judicial system had other priorities, such as undergoing a complete overhaul, sometimes being rebuilt from scratch, it has now come of age and can tackle the issue of Genocide compensations.

As commemorations of the 21st anniversary of the Genocide are just around the corner, survivors should be given a new lease of hope that, finally, their patience was not all in vain.

End

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