Human rights Watch is today releasing a report on the gacaca court system. The 144-page report is featured in the Human rights Watch website and its titled; Justice Compromised: The Legacy of Rwanda's Community-Based Gacaca Courts.
It assesses the courts' achievements and outlines a number of serious shortcomings in their work, including corruption and procedural irregularities. Human Rights Watch details the system's achievements such as swift trials with popular participation, a reduction in the prison population, a better understanding of what happened in 1994, locating and identifying bodies of victims and a possible easing of ethnic tensions.
Human Rights Watch says it also interviewed rape victims whose genocide-related cases were transferred in May 2008 from conventional courts that have stronger privacy protection, to gacaca courts saying many rape victims felt betrayed by this loss of confidentiality.
The report is based on Human Rights Watch observing over 2,000 days of gacaca trials, reviewing more than 350 cases, and interviews with hundreds of participants from all sides of the gacaca process, including accused persons, genocide survivors, witnesses, other community members, judges, and local and national government officials.
Gacaca courts were established in 2001 to address the overload of cases in the conventional justice system and a prison crisis.