Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-vi

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiv

This study grew out of an interaction between me and a computer screen. Luckily, the latter sentence qualifies only the last leg of the journey. Indeed, this book did not take shape in isolation but through interaction with and the support of a great number of individuals. It is only now, after many years of study, that I can finally thank these people on paper.
I could not have collected the data that drives this study without the assistance of a great many Rwandans. Over the years, I had the pleasure of working with more than twenty-five people who assisted me with various tasks in the research process (I do not provide full names given the nature of Rwanda’s political climate): Vivine, Augustin, Alice, Jean-Baptiste, Yves, Stany, Anthère, Theodomir, Christine, Bonne Année, Frank, Jean-Paul, Victor, Jean, Bibiane, Judith, Jean-de-Dieu, Marguerite, Olivier, Bihoyiki, Ladislas, Florence, Sylvestre, and Jean-Bosco. Although I was technically their boss, I consider them colleagues. I thank them for their continued perseverance, motivation, and...

List of Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xv-2

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 3-13

This book opens the black box of Rwanda’s grassroots transitional justice processes: the gacaca courts. Both the practice of and scholarship on transitional justice recently took a turn toward localized or grassroots mechanisms, processes, or approaches. Dealing with a violent past used to be primarily a matter of (inter)national tribunals or truth commissions. These institutions, however, were modeled on a Western idea of doing justice, which is dominantly retributive. Or they hinged on Western assumptions that establishing the truth would lead to spiritual or Christian redemption. In addition, they often operated mainly in capital cities, sometimes even abroad. For the ordinary population, of whom a significant part had been directly affected by violence in the past, these mechanisms functioned at physically and psychologically large distances....

read more

1. From Genocide to Gacaca

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 14-29

Before 1994 Rwanda was hidden in the heart of Africa, almost unknown beyond its borders. On 6 April 1994, however, the aircraft carrying then-president Juvénal Habyarimana was shot down in the skies over the capital, Kigali. This put in motion the campaign of genocidal violence that members of the majority Hutu ethnic group conducted against, mostly, the Tutsi minority but also the so-called moderate Hutu, who belonged to the majority group but opposed the regime in place. In one hundred days, between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people died. These tragic events shocked the world and placed Rwanda on the global map. The country has had the world’s attention ever since, in part because Rwanda chose to deal with its legacy of genocide through the boldest experiment in transitional justice ever attempted. The gacaca court system adapted—or, more accurately, reinvented—a traditional conflict-resolution mechanism. The modern gacaca courts’ historical origins, their evolution, but especially the way they were reconceived after the genocide influenced their legal and operational features, the way they functioned, the outcomes they produced, their scope, and their limitations....

read more

2. Learning “to Be Kinyarwanda”

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 30-49

Various research principles, methods, and epistemologies inform this study of the Rwandan gacaca courts and their impact on society in addition to the discussions that are increasingly taking place on how to research and assess the impact of transitional justice (Baxter 2002; Van der Merwe et al. 2009). Scholars often use ethnographic techniques for individual case studies (e.g., Baines 2007) and community studies (e.g., Hamber and Kelly 2005). Nationwide opinion and attitude surveys (e.g., Gibson 2006)1 or cross-national comparisons (e.g., Olsen et al. 2010) of a number of variables provide a quantified insight into the nature and impact of transitional justice processes....

read more

3. Gacaca Mechanics

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 50-75

Understanding how the modern gacaca actually functioned requires answers to straightforward but fundamental questions: How did the trials work? Did people confess to crimes or did others accuse them? Who participated and was participation high? Were state agents involved? How many people stood trial and who were they? What allegations were lodged against defendants? How many people were acquitted? What were the verdicts and how did the judges reach them? Answering these questions—and others—provides new evidence on basic operational issues that remain little known or that provoke controversy.
We can begin to discern the different dimensions of gacaca in practice only by examining the verbatim recordings of concrete cases. One is the trial of Ndambaye, which took place at the sector level, where courts dealt with crimes against humans. The logic of these sector-level trials was different from those at the cell level, which dealt with pillaging and destruction of property. Examining specific cases allows me to introduce the mechanics of the court system at the sector level. Subsequently, I systematically examine all the observed...

read more

4. Experiencing Gacaca

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 76-97

What kind of atmosphere did the sudden shift to accusatory practices create in the local communities where people were practicing gacaca? How did the general public experience the changing features of the gacaca over time? Did they experience justice and/or reconciliation or did other sentiments accompany the gacaca process? I asked these questions in order to gain a deeper understanding of the court system, its impact in Rwandan society, and the experience of Rwandans practicing gacaca.
In doing so, I combined two research techniques in seven Rwandan sectors, including the four sectors where we systematically observed gacaca trials: life-history interviews that cover the period when gacaca was operational in Rwandan society, and surveys that asked open-ended questions on positive and negative experiences with gacaca....

read more

5. The Weight of the State

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 98-116

Understanding the forces that shaped the gacaca practice, animated the almost systemic generation of guilt, and created such frictional experiences with the truth requires some context. Key elements in that context include the nature of the state, the nature of governance practice, and the nature of local government entities in the periphery of Rwandan society.
These factors, along with the identity of local authorities, the particularity of their practices, and their connection with state power under the RPF regime have all been documented recently (Ingelaere 2010b, 2011b; Purdekova 2011a; Sommers 2012, 73–94). Rwanda’s ruling party, the RPF, created parallel channels of command and control in the countryside, including certain dimensions of the gacaca practice, in order to maintain centralized control over the population. But we need to consider other elements besides government structures and governance practice before we understand how heavily state structures weigh on the lives of Rwandans. This weight is tremendous, and it tacitly structured the nature of participation in the gacaca process....

read more

6. Navigating the Social

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 117-132

The gacaca trials were conducted through verbal testimony—confessions, accusations, and witnessing. Throughout the entire gacaca period, many people resorted to multiple confessions, which suggests that they considered confessing to be a strategic move. Many also looked at testimony in strategic terms. Gacacas were designed to discover objective truth, and according to that benchmark, much testimony was partial or false. Riding the system, score-settling, and the search for profit as well as silence or nonparticipation were widespread. A pragmatic truth, not the objective truth the court designers envisioned, dominated the gacaca practice.
Several forces motivated these partial or false testimonies. By observing testimonial practices and gathering contextual knowledge, I began to understand why the dynamics of the gacaca activity shifted from confession to accusation, and, finally, to see that “the truth” was not only important to Rwandans practicing gacaca but also problematic. In what follows, I use the notion of “effectual truth” to evoke these situations where truth is equated with utility.1...

read more

7. A Thousand Hills, a Thousand Gacacas

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 133-146

Alignment with the center does not exclude autonomous dynamics in the periphery. And these types of social activities are more than simply reactions to the “weight of the state,” as some anal- yses of social dynamics in rural Rwanda tend to suggest (Ansoms 2009, 193–212; Thomson 2013).1 Indeed, although the state and authority shape life to a great extent, Rwandans are not machines who execute a plan designed in the center, and neither do they (always) (un)consciously resist such plans. There is always “a sense of agency in the face of disempowering circumstances” (Jackson 2002, 15). Autonomous dynamics emerged in the space of the gacaca process. Chapter 6 on social navigation demonstrated that the self-governance Rwandans exercised by practicing gacaca was close to virtù, in the Machiavellian sense, in which basic survival and the increase of well-being in the short and long run dominated....

read more

8. Shades of Heart

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 147-159

In the highly pragmatic life of the Rwandan hills, tensions and conflicts are kept in the dark because neighbors and villagers depend upon each other in their daily activities, and they fight for survival in conditions of shared impoverishment. In the immediate wake of the genocide, the realities of shared living space were marked by mutual fear, which diminished progressively with the passing of time. Of necessity, though, life returned to a form of normality. An expression often used to describe alliances between victims and perpetrators was “someone hides that he hates you and you hide that you know” (umuntu aguhisha ko akwanga ukamuhisha ko ubizi). It means that people are aware that the social or interpersonal relationship between them is not good but, nevertheless, they pretend to get along. Such pragmatic, strategic behavior is tied to the notion of ubwenge. The social imaginary of which ubwenge is a tenet needs additional examination to make sense of the unfolding and outcomes of the gacaca process....

read more

Epilogue

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 160-168

The black box of Rwanda’s grassroots transitional justice process has been opened. I began this study with the observation that one needs to distinguish the gacaca model as it emerged in the wake of the Rwandan genocide from its actual practice. We have now seen that the gacaca courts were, at one and the same time, a centralized and a decentralized justice system: they embodied the installation and completion of a process at the local level, but they were controlled and guided from above. They were also both a formal and an informal way of dispensing justice, and their core was retributive and adversarial. Their designers claimed the courts were homegrown, inspired by customary justice but in accordance with international human rights standards. Based on numerous observations of their practical functioning, one can conclude that the gacaca courts were something never seen before, a truly new form of justice. They mimicked a “traditional” conflict resolution mechanism but offered less potential for conciliation, but at the same time they imitated the modern legal system but with fewer safe-guards for due process....

Appendix I: Important Dates

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 169-170

Appendix II: Supplementary Tables

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 171-184

Glossary

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 185-188

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 189-206

References

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 207-228

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 229-236