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Refereed articles

Preconditions and processes for establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Rwanda: The possible interim role of Gacaca community courts

Jeremy Sarkin suggests a possible model for a truth and reconciliation enquiry in Rwanda which was presented to that country's government in 1998. Given the enormous difficulties of prosecuting the estimated 125 000 alleged perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda, he proposes as an interim measure that use be made of existing community-based dispute resolution forums, known as the Gacaca, for local enquiries into the genocide.

Traditionally made up of respected older men, the makeup of these structures would have to be carefully considered to achieve a representative body. Communities would have to reach agreement before being able to apply to the government for such a structure to be established. The powers of such bodies and their relationship to the formal justice system would have to be defined. Such a model, however, can only be a first step; a national truth and reconciliation commission, it is argued, is needed to ensure lasting peace in the country.

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