Saturday, June 26, 2004

Rwanda: gacaca courts launched

Following a two-year trial period to identify and correct weaknesses in the system, Rwanda on Thursday saw the launch of the gacaca courts, a traditional court system.

During the trial period ...
[...] 750 courts conducted trials, imprisoning 376 people. Another 386 people were freed, either because they were found innocent or they were younger than 18 at the time they committed the crimes.

During the test phase, the legislature made adjustments to how the courts run trials. A week ago, for example, it was decided to allow rape victims to testify in private to encourage women abused during the genocide to come forward.
More on the problems identified and the proposed solutions here.

Found the best explanation for the meaning of "gacaca" in this story from the Hirondelle News Agency ...
The word ‘Gacaca’ comes from the Kinyarwanda word for a kind of grass (agacaca) and the courts are modelled on the traditional ways of solving disputes, where village wise men bring together all parties in a public gathering, usually sitting on grass in a public place.