Gacaca Court Proceedings
In order to expedite the delivery of justice, the Rwandan Government has returned to the traditional Gacaca Court system. The local Gacaca courts, meaning 'justice on the grass', combine traditional local justice with modern jurisprudence, with the aim of achieving truth, justice, and reconciliation. Upon its completion, it will have been the most thorough process in bringing the rank and file of genocide to justice. Over 100,000 inmates have been indicted for crimes of genocide. They are expected to stand trial at Gacaca.
Traditionally, the Gacaca settled local disputes and served as an informal means of solving conflicts such as theft, marital problems, land rights, and property damage. Constituted as village assemblies and presided by the ancients, the Gacaca gave each community member the opportunity to speak. The trials intended to promote reconciliation and justice of the perpetrator in front of family and neighbors.
Established in March 2001, the current Rwandan Gacaca court system, involves both plaintiffs and witnesses in an interactive court proceeding against alleged criminals who participated in the genocide. The judges, who are among 250,000 individuals elected by Rwandans to serve in the Gacaca courts, are responsible for determining two (of the three) categories of people accused of participation in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
Each Gacaca court contains nine judges who hold the power to sentence criminals up to life imprisonment, but not capital punishment.