Foreign students at ILPD applaud Gacaca Law's role in fostering justice and reconciliation

Foreign students studying at the Institute of Legal Practice and Development (ILPD) have lauded the Gacaca law for its significant role in aiding the Rwandan population. Their appreciation came to the fore following a talk delivered by Dr. Wibabara Charity, the national prosecutor on October 4, 2023 at ILPD headquarters in Nyanza. These students are determined to apply the principles they've imbibed from this unique legal system to offer cultural solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of their home countries, without merely copying practices from other nations.

At ILPD, this exchange of ideas is part of the routine curriculum, aimed at honing the skills of students pursuing legal studies. The goal is to equip them with a distinct set of skills that will set them apart in the field of law.

The Academic Dean of ILPD Mr. Bangayandusha Viateur, the Dean of Studies a expressed the significance of such sessions in helping students translate their academic knowledge acquired in class into practical applications. He emphasized the importance of inviting experts to share their experiences with students, ensuring that they can readily apply these insights beyond the classroom.

Returning to the distinctive nature of the Gacaca courts, Mr. Viateur highlighted the importance of this legal system, which every legal professional should familiarize themselves with. It addresses specific issues that ordinary courts couldn't resolve, providing an alternative and effective path to justice for the Rwandan people. Mr. Viateur added that through Gacaca courts the country managed to handle more than 120,000 suspects in Rwandan prisons who were arrested and provisionally detained for the crime of genocide and other crimes against humanity that were awaiting trial.

Dr. Wibabara Charity, the Prosecutor of the Republic, who also provided insights during the interview, underscored the swiftness of the Gacaca courts in delivering justice. Notably, in just a decade, they managed to adjudicate nearly two million cases, a remarkable achievement when compared to the pace of other courts handling Genocide cases, ordinary courts, or even international tribunals like the International Court of Arusha.

The Gacaca system earned praise for its cost-effectiveness, as trials were conducted within local communities, sparing people the burden of long journeys. The most significant achievement of the Gacaca courts, however, was their contribution to fostering unity and reconciliation within Rwandan society. The truth uncovered through these trials served as a catalyst for uniting the Rwandan community.

Students who partook in this discussion expressed their contentment with the Gacaca Courts' outcomes. They found themselves aligned with the idea of encouraging their fellow citizens to leverage their cultural and historical heritage to seek justice and reconciliation.

One of the students, Josepha Sulem from Cameroon, stressed the importance of revisiting Africa's pre-colonial past as a means of discovering sustainable solutions, much like those offered by the Gacaca Courts.

Alain Bruce Tanjmi, also an ILPD student, reiterated the sentiment that the Gacaca Courts exemplified a model of positive justice, in stark contrast to systems imported from Europe. He emphasized the need for African leaders, including President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, to champion solutions tailored to the unique challenges and heritage of the continent.

The Gacaca courts, which operated from June 2005 to June 18, 2012, stand as a testament to Rwanda's commitment to finding innovative and culturally relevant solutions to their complex social and legal challenges. Their success continues to serve as an inspiration for not only Rwandans but also students and observers worldwide who seek effective, homegrown approaches to justice and reconciliation.