The impact of Gacaca courts in three Rwandan communities
One of the major issues following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 was what to do with the huge number of people (around 100 000) accused of crimes during the genocide. Western legal approaches dealt with a handful of such cases at huge expense but the vast majority of the accused languished in prison. The government decided to employ a modified version of Gacaca - the traditional way of dealing with disputes and lower level crimes at community level. Using a qualitative research methodology and employing focus groups and individual interviews as data collection tools, this research investigate perceptions about the operation of Gacaca in three Rwandan communities, with particular reference to truth, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. The research suggests that in the three communities, Gacaca was seen as bringing the truth out into the open and to provide a measure of justice, although limitations were noted in both of these respects. Given the enormity of the genocide crimes, however, there seemed to be little progress in the areas of forgiveness and reconciliation.