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Justice and reconciliation : transitional justice in post 1994 Rwanda in the light of the South African experience.

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This study deals with the problem of transitional justice in post-genocide Rwanda in the light of South African experience. Transitional justice, a kind of justice pertinent to societies in transition from dictatorship to democracy where the new democratic regime faces the challenge of how to redress the abuses of the past, varies according to each case. While South African transitional justice has taken a form of mixed memory and punishment with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the case of Rwanda still presents a number of difficulties. First and foremost, unlike South Africa, Rwanda is a case of genocide and so far there is no agreement about how to think of and understand this genocide. Of the three different sources considered in this study, Adedeji and the Human Rights Watch Report argue that genocide was planned in advance, while Mamdani contends that it was a result of the failure of governmental forces to win the war and the advancement of the rebels, and nothing as such was planned before. . Besides the genocide, the continuation of human rights violations and the lack of will to change, the lack of democracy, the continuation of international support despite the lack of transparency in governance, along with other elements, hold Rwanda in the pretransition stage. In this study, I examine the close links between transitional justice and Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I raise the question of what it would mean for Rwanda to have a successful Truth and Reconciliation Commission; given the history of genocide, and I discuss the failure of the Commission in Arusha. For transitional justice to take place in Rwanda, every form of armed struggle must stop so as to allow Rwandans (all conflicting parties involved) to take the genocide seriously and face its entire truth with courage and honesty. The truth of genocide would clarify the misconception of Rwandan history and would allow Rwandans to change their mentality and belief that ethnic majority means necessarily political majority and to embrace a more transethnic political identity. Then the establishment of a judiciary system capable of dealing with the abuses of the past would be possible. This new democratic regime, which would be democratically organized when all these requirements are met, would determine what kind of transitional justice would be pertinent to the Rwandan case.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Natal, Durban, 2002.


Justice., Reconciliation., Responsibility., Genocide--Rwanda., Theses--Philosophy.