Restorative justice is often misunderstood by Western academia in the context of community-based justice systems in African nations. The Gacaca courts used in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi are frequently criticized for their procedures and outcomes. However, a majority of these criticisms come from Western authors without having engaged in conversations with Rwandans and observing the effects of the trials within the nation. The only people who know and understand the impact of the Gacaca courts are Rwandans. I have been researching how the Gacaca trials contributed to homegrown solutions and their impact within communities in Rwanda and allowing for reconciliation. There is little research beyond the planning period and start of the Gacaca trials to follow-up and see whether they were successful or lessons to learn from them.
Discussions with Rwandan citizens expanded beyond research capable within literature, showing the emotions and feelings of those who participated in the Gacaca courts. Only through conversations with real participants can one begin to understand its impacts within the community and the nation, without real conversations it is hard to prove the viability of a critique without these perspectives. Through a variety of data collection techniques, I have discovered more about reconciliation, at both a personal and national level, about the Rwandans faith in the fairness and justice dispensed by the Gacaca courts, and the positive impacts in healing made within communities and the nation as a result of the courts.
African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Human Rights Law | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social and Cultural Anthropology
Thibodeau, Mary, "Analyzing the Social Impact of Gacaca Courts in the Reconciliation Process in Rwanda" (2020). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 3376.
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