23.11.07 - BELGIUM/IMPUNITY - CONFERENCE IN BRUSSELS ON THE FIGHT AGAINST IMPUNITY

  Brussels, 23 November 2007 (FH) - A conference on the fight against impunity in the area of the Great Lakes, still unstable, thirteen years after, by the political and military consequences of the Tutsi genocide in 1994 in Rwanda, will be held Monday in Brussels in the buildings of the European Parliament on the initiative of the European Network for Central Africa (EurAc).   
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Titled: "The Fight Against Impunity as a Condition for a Lasting Peace", this conference is held as "the area is facing a turbulent time", explains Kris Berwouts, the director of EurAc, a network which gathers forty-six NGOs active in central Africa and originating from twelve European countries.
 
It is a new phase for these countries "after the Burundian and Congolese elections which have just put an end to a transitional period", he adds; referring to the elections to the presidency of Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi in August 2005 and of Joseph Kabila in November 2006 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
 
"It thus becomes important to manage the crimes of the past to consolidate peace and safety which are not yet acquired in certain parts of the region", estimates Mr. Berwouts.
 
"To manage the crimes of the past": a step which can be supported by mechanisms known as of "transitional justice". Canadian Mark Freeman, director of the Brussels office of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), an NGO founded in 2000 and present in twenty-eight countries, will detail in his presentation on Monday the "concepts and instruments" of this justice.
 
Transitional justice, a recent concept in the field of international relations, explores the legal and non-legal answers allowing societies in political transition to assume and exceed a heritage of crimes committed against human rights.
 
Three other speakers will develop, for their part, "an aspect of the problems of impunity in each of the three country of the region".
 
The historian Alison Des Forges, known for her work of reference on the Rwandan genocide ("No Witness Must Survive", report for the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and Human Rights Watch published in 1999) and expert at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), will analyze "the gacaca experiment in Rwanda".
 
The gacacas are popular courts derived from traditional village community courts. They were reactivated by Rwanda in order to compensate, for certain categories of crimes, with ordinary courts blocked because of the great number of persons accused of participating in the 1994 genocide.
 
Charles Ndayiziga, of the Alert and Conflict Prevention Center (CENAP), an ONG created in 1992 in Burundi, will intervene, for his part, on "the fight against impunity in the reforms of the security sector in Burundi", through the formation of the Burundian national police force.
 
The final presenter, Marie-Noël Cikuru, who worked in Goma (eastern DRC) for Women for Women International, an NGO that has worked since 1993 to improve the condition of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, will speak about "impunity in the violence committed against women and children in DRC".
 
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