Kigali, March 20, 2012 (Hirondelle News Agency) – The Rwandan government announced on Monday that the gacaca courts closure ceremony was postponed to June 18. According to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Pascal Ruganintwari, “there are no cases left before gacaca courts,” but the official closure had to be delayed again because of a backlog in documents translation.
The closure of gacaca courts was first announced in 2007, but has been postponed several times due to what officials describe as the complexity of certain cases and the discovery of new facts.
Gacaca trials began in 2005 in 106 pilot jurisdictions and were then extended to the rest of the country. They have now judged some 1.5 million people and handed down 1.9 million judgments, according to the Rwandan government.
Gacaca courts have the competence to try all genocide suspects except top planners at national and prefectural level. They can impose sentences of up to life imprisonment which is now the maximum sentence in Rwanda. Gacaca judges are volunteers and are not professional lawyers but rather people elected by their communities on the basis of integrity. Some have, however, themselves been accused of genocide, subsequently tried and convicted or acquitted. Some have also been guilty of corruption
Source: Hirondelle News Agency