Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sullo: Beyond Genocide: Transitional Justice and Gacaca Courts in Rwanda

Pietro Sullo (Univ. of Kent - Brussels School of International Studies) has published Beyond Genocide: Transitional Justice and Gacaca Courts in Rwanda - The Search for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation (Asser Press 2018). Here's the abstract:

Combining both legal and empirical research, this book explores the statutory aspects andpractice of gacaca courts (inkiko gacaca), the centrepiece of Rwanda’s post-genocide transitionaljustice system, assessing their contribution to truth, justice and reconciliation. Thevolume expands the knowledge regarding these courts, assessing not only their performancein terms of formal justice and compliance with human rights standards, but also their actualmodus operandi.

Scholars and practitioners have progressively challenged the idea that genocide should beaddressed exclusively through ‘westernised’ criminal law, arguing that the uniqueness ofeach genocidal setting requires specific context-sensitive solutions. Rwanda’s experience withgacaca courts has emerged as a valuable opportunity for testing this approach, offering newhome-grown solutions for dealing with the violence experienced in 1994 and beyond that werenever previously tried. Due to their unique features, gacaca courts have attracted the attentionof researchers from different disciplines and triggered dichotomous reactions and appraisals.

Anchoring the assessment of gacaca courts in a comprehensive legal analysis in conjunctionwith field research, this book addresses the tensions existing within the literature. Throughthe direct observation of gacaca trials, interviews and informal talks with genocide survivors,defendants, ordinary Rwandans, academics and practitioners, a purely legalistic perspectiveis overcome, offering instead an innovative bottom-up approach to meta-legal concepts suchas justice, fairness, truth and reconciliation. Outlining their strengths and shortcomings, thisbook highlights what aspects of gacaca courts can be useful in other post-genocide contexts,and provides crucial lessons learned in the realm of transitional justice.