Journal Article

<i>Gacaca</i> Courts: Between Fantasy and Reality

Jacques Fierens

in Journal of International Criminal Justice

Volume 3, issue 4, pages 896-919
Published in print September 2005 | ISSN: 1478-1387
Published online September 2005 | e-ISSN: 1478-1395 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jicj/mqi069
Gacaca Courts: Between Fantasy and Reality

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Faced with an overflowing caseload and imperatives of national reconciliation, Rwandan authorities have established a system of justice, meted out through gacaca courts under the legal framework created by organic laws. The following contribution analyses this framework, within the context of national and international legal systems, and pinpoints the shortcomings of the proposed form of justice. These include legal issues such as the problem of retroactivity, as well as the definition of crimes and concerns over due process and the right to a fair trial for defendants. Practical and material obstacles arise in implementing the organic laws, alongside broader implications owing to the traditional nature of such courts and possible interference by political authorities. In this respect, the gacaca courts may be victims of their own ambitions, by seeking to respond to judicial, societal and philosophical concerns alike.

Journal Article.  11104 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law ; International Law ; International Criminal Law ; International Humanitarian Law ; Transnational Crime

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