Kigali, April 03, 2009 (FH) - Rwandan semi-traditional courts known as Gacaca, set up by the government in 2001 to prosecute genocide suspects, have registered a record success for delivering over 1.1 million judgments, leaving behind just about 3,000 pending cases.

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‘'We have achieved our target by 99 per cent and we're determined to clear off  remaining cases in the next two months,''Bikesha Dennis, Director of Training, Mobilization and Sensitization of National Service of Gacaca, Jurisdiction told Hirondelle in Kigali Thursday.

According to Bikesha they are almost done with categories two and three suspects, comprising of persons accused of unintentional killings, assaulters and looters.

He elaborated that the courts are now putting its weight on the first category which comprises of planners, organizers, instigators, supervisors and those who committed rape and sexual violence.

‘'We can not always rely on the western style of justice dispensation,'' Bikesha stressed.

He also expressed his dismay over the small number of judgments rendered  so far by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania,  prosecuting key suspects of 1994  genocide, apart from the high-cost of running the UN Court.   

The budget allocation for 2008/2009 was $ 267 million, which is equivalent to about 12 per cent of Rwanda government's annual budget.

Since its establishment in November, 1994 the UN Tribunal has delivered a total of 44 judgments.

According to Bikesha the whole country has 12,013 Gacaca courts with 169,442 judges. However, the Gacaca courts are not presided by professional judges by people considered of high esteem in the society.

‘'I am happy that Gacaca has facilitated reconciliation process by decreasing animosity amongst Rwandans,'' he said.

But that not withstanding, like any other institution, gacacas equally face some challenges, including people still clinging to the genocide ideology, threats, harassment and killing of genocide survivors, witnesses and some gacaca judges, lamented Bikesha.

The western countries look at the Gacaca trials with skepticism because the trials are presided by unprofessional judges and consider the process as abuse of human rights.


 © Hirondelle News Agency