27 February 2015
Conflict between different parties can often destroy a society. In 1994, 800,000 people were killed during a conflict known as the Rwandan Genocide. The genocide lasted
3 months and was caused by ethnic tensions between two groups known as the Hutus and
Tutsis. After the genocide, Rwanda turned to its traditional court system to prosecute the genocide-related crimes. By 1998, however, the total prison population had reached about
130,000, but only 1,292 people had been tried in established Rwandan courts (Human
Rights Watch). It was apparent that this system was not efficient enough to prosecute the large number of genocide-related crimes. In fact, correspondents say up to 10,000 people died in prison before they could be brought to justice (BBC). As a result, the Rwandan government established a system of community justice inspired by tradition known as
Gacaca in 2001. The Gacaca courts were vital in the rebuilding of Rwandan society. They helped to establish social harmony between Rwandans, helped improve the economy of
Rwanda, and helped genocide victims seek fair justice.
First and foremost, gacaca courts helped to establish social harmony within
Rwanda. Social harmony is the peaceful interaction of human dynamics among members of a social group or groups. The first step in reconciliation is admitting the wrongdoing.
Gacaca courts encouraged genocide perpetrators to do so. In an interview with Josephine
Munyeli, one of the people responsible for explaining the new gacaca process to the community, she stated, “Whoever confessed would see their penalty reduced, because you cannot confess and remain the same. Confessing is something that changes people”
(Educating the Community). As a rule, admitting to a crime is the first step in reconciliation.
In fact, over 93% of Rwandans believe gacaca played a big part in delivering justice and helping reconciliation (Educating the Community). Therefore, gacaca courts helped to establish social harmony within Rwanda.
Furthermore, the gacaca courts helped improve the economy of Rwanda. Since gacaca courts have helped to establish social harmony within Rwanda, it has therefore allowed Hutus and Tutsis to work together peacefully. Thus creating more job opportunities for Rwandans. In fact, since the genocide, Rwanda’s GDP has grown by approximately 7 billion dollars (Trading Economics). As a rule, creating social harmony creates more job opportunities. The increase in job opportunities, consequently, led to an increase in GDP of Rwanda. In fact, GDP has rebounded with an average annual growth of
7%-8% and inflation has been reduced to single digits since the start of Gacaca in 2003
(Trading Economics). Therefore, gacaca courts have helped to improve the economy of
Lastly, Gacaca courts helped genocide victims seek fair justice. The gacaca court system brought together entire villages for the trials. Respected villagers made up a panel of nineteen judges who listened to each party’s case (Weisbord). Having input from all parties helped aide in fair trials because anyone could speak up and present evidence to the judges. This gave justice to both Hutus and Tutsis.Typically, when both parties are given the opportunity to
testify it results in fair trials. Also, Tutsis had a