Genocide in negative ways such as they were

Genocide in Rwanda was a horrible event that occurred from April to July 1994 that consisted of manslaughter which ended up in the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Rwandan civilians. The conflict started between the Hutu government and the Rwandan Patriotic Front because of gov’t related issues, the assassination of Habyarimana ended the peace between both parties. During the genocide many government institutions such as the judicial system were destroyed; Judges, prosecutors and other workers within the justice system were killed while those who survived left Rwanda. Since Genocide the justice system of Rwanda was highly impacted in negative ways such as they were under pressure with overfilled prisons, dealt with underemployment, and injustice within the system. The judicial system of Rwanda was unable to be fixed until years after the genocide with the help of gacaca courts.  The militia forces would recruit Hutu civilians by pressuring them to get armed with machetes, clubs, blunt objects, and other weapons to rape or kill the Tutsi people and to destroy or steal their property. The hutu slaughtered the tutsi people in large amounts and many newborn children were born with infected mothers such as HIV. Many families were left without a home because their homes were destroyed, some people lost their own family members and had no one to go back to; the living conditions for survivors after genocide were horrible. The gov’t tried to use the justice system in order to get those who participated in genocide to pay fines for the damages that were done in order to help these families get a home or repair where they were living before genocide.   On July 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Front , which consisted of tutsi rebel group based in Uganda, had been fighting to overthrow the Rwandan government which resulted in the defeat of the Rwandan army and government. As the Rwandan Patriotic Front took over the country their troops killed thousands of Hutu civilians in order to end the genocide; but the amount of these killings were nothing compared to the genocide killings from the hutu.once the Rwandan Patriotic Front were able to secure the victory and end genocide, the RPW faced a long and hard process of rebuilding a country that had been basically trashed up. After Genocide The Rwandan Patriotic Front came to power and Paul Kagame would become elected as their new president who seeked change and justice. “Today, Rwanda has two public holidays mourning the genocide. The national mourning period begins with Kwibuka, the national commemoration, on April 7 and concludes with Liberation Day on July 4.” The week following April 7 is an official week of mourning, known as Icyunamo(  ). The genocide was so brutal that it resulted in holidays; genocide served as a motive for the creation of the International Criminal Court to eliminate the need for ad hoc tribunals to prosecute genocide members, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. A lot of issues came within the justice system after genocide, the Rwandan patriotic front pursued a policy of mass arrests for genocide jailing over 100,000 in the two years after the genocide but unfortunately there was only so much space for these prisons that they were getting filled up pretty quickly. There were 19 prisons and each one was only able to hold about 18 thousand prisoners which was a big issue since these criminals were all locked up with no space at all and there were still much more prisoners to be locked up but since the prisons were overfilled there was nothing that could be done. Since there were less lawyers this meant that trials were longer and there were way too many prisoners in order to get through trial for each one, so many prisoners were just sentenced without going through a process.A few years later in 2001 the Rwandan community courts were created which is known as Gacaca, these courts were created in order to speed up trials since the justice system of rwanda was full of delays because of genocide. The Gacaca courts helped so much since the majority of suspects were convicted for their involvement in genocide. They only dealt with minor cases only since they weren’t trusted by government officials to handle the bigger cases that had to do with genocide. One problem post Genocide correlated with the justice system is the issue of media restrictions/censorship, another problem has been the fixation of the economy of Rwanda in an effort to put the country in a good position. The Government of Rwanda has made many movements to strengthen censorship within the media which has cause many journalists to respond back to the gov’t by expressing that they don’t favor the restrictions. Journalists have been trying their best in order for more media freedom but there are just so many limitations and don’t have enough people to support them; they have also received threats and harassments from other people within the country. Even though overtime there has been a little more freedom within the media no one feels like there is a difference because they fear that they will be penalized since the gov’t acts cruel towards critics and figures who oppose the gov’t. “While the Media Law has been recently changed to allow greater freedom, the country’s Penal Code (Article 234) still threatens prison of up to a year for insulting “by words, gestures, threats, writings or drawings” an official or the police, with the penalties doubling if the insult occurs in court or Parliament.” (cpj) Some of these harsh punishments for for saying something wrong is the reason why a lot of people within the media and people within the civilization of rwanda would rather not saying nothing bad towards any issues about the country.  The Gacaca courts also faced issues since some government officials had feared that gacaca might not be the right mechanism for genocide trials, given the gravity and complexity of the crimes. The conventional form of gacaca had only been used for minor civil disputes involving property, inheritance, personal injury, and marital relations; the more serious cases such as murder were reserved for resolution by village chiefs or the leader’s representative because the gacaca courts were seen as incapable of these big crimes by most people, even though they still helped with a lot of trials. These government officials worried that judges would struggle to correctly apply the law, given that many had no formal education or training. They warned of the risk of bias, stressing that the local setting meant judges would inevitably know the parties in a case which would reduce their objectivity and increase the risk of corruption. Some survivors did not receive any compensation for their lost property or any injuries,     Most significantly, these government officials warned that gacaca procedures would fail to comply with Rwanda’s international fair trial obligations. Nearly 10 years after gacaca began, many of these concerns have turned out to be justifiable. “The gacaca laws tried to strike a balance by protecting some rights, including the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty; modifying others, such as the right to have adequate time to prepare a defense; and sacrificing others altogether, including the right to a lawyer.” ( human rights watch) Not all prisoners were treated fairly within the gacaca system but it did speed up the process. When it came to sentencing prisoners there were about 3 category of offenders in response to genocide, the first would usually be a life sentence, the second would be about 5 to 10 years in prison and the third would be a fine to pay for the damage that was caused during the Rwandan genocide. Prisoners who confessed about their participation before they were convicted would receive a shorter sentence and those who confessed before they were even accused had an even shorter sentence than the rest. So in a way that was pretty fair for prisoners within the judicial system, yes there were a lot of unfairness but at the same time prisoners were given some rights and justification.   The gacaca courts had  processed nearly 2 million until they were closed down in 2012 because the government felt they were no longer needed. The gacaca courts did many things such as helping survivors find out what happened to their family members, helping them find a way to live peacefully around perpetrators, and many more good things considering the flaws that came along with the courts. If it wasn’t for the gacaca courts then I believe rwanda would have been in a bigger mess and would have took even more years to resolve their issues within civilization to seek justice for those who killed and those who survived. The gacaca process would help local communities reunite together which was good for building strong based communities and help build trust between the citizens.   The Rwandan Patriotic Front has tried to help better their country anyway possible, through the justice system they have made stricter laws and have become stricter with uncivilized actions. For example, citizens insulting other citizens also include punishments which means that it not only about the government, this is a good strategy in a way when it comes to citizens because it diminishes the bad talking and increases more friendly conversations with each other. In america we see so much citizens insulting each other which creates a lot of hatred and people disliking each other, so in a way the Rwandan government was smart for punishing citizens who insult others. The president of Rwanda believes that media is the not good because in order to preserve national unity there has to be a tight control; he says that censoring and limiting the media can prevent a return of ethnic violence. I can see where the president is coming from because the media is capable of making stories or spreading news that can make other citizens unhappy or create tension within the political system which has proven true for a lot of places. The judicial system being more controlling with these things can help out Rwanda but at the same time I believe that if the government is enforcing so many things to the point where these citizens feel unempowered or like slaves then chaos may result in the actions of the justice system.   Today there are only about 22 radio stations and 4 television channels that don’t have to do with public broadcasting meaning they are private and the rest are gov’t provided sources. A lot of private publications from journalists have also disappeared because of threats and arrests made, these people working to make publications about issues were scared to keep going with their job because they were afraid of the consequences that would come with it.” In the event of an offense, publishing directors, editors, printers, and distributors could all face prosecution under Article 88 of the law, which led to refusals to print or distribute material.”(cpj) While the president has reduced the maximum years of prision from 25 to 9, in some cases those who publish sensitive topics against the government will face even more years. The RMC are a group of people who work for journalists and they basically show some of their work to the RURA who issue or withdraw licenses about publications. The RURA are a type of authority that work for the government and have power such as suspending radio stations and other media services. The limited reforms appear to have not been accepted by some authorities, even those who support the media reforms and participate in the new structures express doubts about whether the military will respect the spirit of the law. People are not investing in the media as a business, so there are no serious investors. The economy is still small, advertising revenue is small, so people go into it for any amount of money in order for survival without any clear business plan.      Judges elected by the population, who did not have prior legal training, were to try cases in front of members of the local community, who were expected to speak out about what they knew regarding the defendant’s’ actions during the genocide. Compared with most other countries emerging from mass violence, Rwanda’s determination to see justice done and its progress in trying so many alleged perpetrators in less than 20 years have been impressive. But some have paid a high price. The expectation that gacaca could deliver national-level reconciliation in a matter of a few years, especially so soon after the genocide, was unrealistic from the outset. But gacaca’s potential for contributing to reconciliation was hindered by difficulties in revealing the truth, as some participants lied or remained silent due to intimidation, corruption, personal ties, or fear of repercussions. The genocide suspects were split into three categories, first one was made up of planners or organizers of the genocide, officials, and leaders who participated or incited others to participate, and those who committed rape and sexual torture. Category 2 was for the well known murderers, those who tortured others or defiled their bodies, suspects who killed or intended to kill, and those who served as accomplices in such acts.Category 3 was for the property offenders who had not yet come to settlement with victims or authorities before the organic law came into effect.”In response to the genocide, the United Nations Security Council set up the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in 1994, with a mandate to prosecute “persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of Rwanda and Rwandan citizens responsible for genocide and other such violations committed in the territory of neighbouring states between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.”  Because Gacaca’s original purpose was not to operate the severe crimes as those that were carried out during the genocide, the sentences associated with those guilty most times do not fit the crime and require further proximity and intimacy between the perpetrator and victim. Despite its restorative nature, Gacaca is a legal process and with this in mind punishment constitutes a major element of the Gacaca courts. Perpetrators found guilty were convicted to some form arrangement of punishment, but it is important to note that this rarely takes the form of a jail sentence and instead demands tasks such as the rebuilding of victims’ homes, working in their fields or other variations of community service. Thus, despite Gacaca’s clear punitive and legal elements, in many ways the nature of punishment remains within a restorative framework of repairing the harm done through practical measures. Senior Human Rights Watch adviser Alison Des Forges said the lack of legal representation was a serious concern. “The authorities’ view is that this is a quasi-customary kind of procedure, and there never used to be lawyers, so there’s no need for lawyers now. The problem with that is that little is the same except for the name. In this system, there is considerable weight given to the official side. The office of the prosecutor provides considerable assistance to the bench of judges in terms of making its determination, so you no longer have a level playing field.” There may, however, be no alternative to the Gacaca trials, she added. “Obviously the problem of delivering justice after the genocide is an overwhelming problem. Gacaca may not be ideal but there is at this point no alternative…. The official explanation I think is that people did not speak openly until the Gacaca process and now many more accusations are surfacing. Also, the concession program, which requires the naming of all those who participated along with the accused in return for a lighter sentence, has led to a multiplication of names. “How many of these are well-founded, what is the credibility of the evidence, these are very serious concerns.” There were are a lot of disapproval and disputes about whether or not to get rid of Gacaca courts, and unfortunately overtime the gacaca courts were stopped being used. Human rights groups would worry about the fairness of trials since they were held without any lawyers which meant that there was less protection for the defendants compared to the conventional courts. Conventional trials have also seen false accusations and intimidation of witnesses on both sides; this is why issues of revenge within the system has been raised as a concern by the justice system. Also since the trials are based on testimonies from witnesses, the amount of time between the crime and trial rises the risk that the witnesses’ memories will be unreliable and might change some things up. Overall considering that factors of genocide in Rwanda the justice system has made big improvements over the years which have been noticeable by the government. Many issues within the justice system have been able to be resolved with the help of institutions such as the gacaca courts which made big impacts. It was really intresting to learn about the history of genocide and how the government was able to try and fix the country back together. Also learning about the justice system and the steps that they went through in order to prosecute those that were guilty; I believe that the Rwandan officials did a good job with punishing those who were guilty and helping those who were in need of help due to genocide.     


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