The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Karugarama Receives Medal for Guiding Gacaca

Tharcisse Karugarama, the Minister of Justice, received a medal from the United Religions Initiative (URI) in recognition for his outstanding leadership and overseeing the role of the Gacaca court system.

URI is an NGO with a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

In a function that celebrated the closure and achievements of Gacaca, Ambassador Mussie Hailu, the Regional Director for Africa and Representative of URI at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), presented the medal to Karugarama.

86 former staff of Gacaca also received certificates of merit from the Ministry of Justice for their contributions towards making the justice system a success.

"Minister Karugarama's work and support was very valuable and greatly impacted on the achievements of Gacaca. He has been inspiring and his leadership qualities played a pivotal role in pursuing a culture of peace, healing and reconciliation," Hailu said.

"I pay tribute to Gacaca judges and staff of the national service of Gacaca courts as well as Rwandans in general for proving to the world that Gacaca works. In the great dilemma of choosing between revenge or general amnesty after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, Rwanda chose to serve general justice through Gacaca, a very commendable and unifying route that other countries should learn from".

Domitilla Mukantaganzwa, the Head of Gacaca thanked all parties involved in Gacaca for sacrificing time and knowledge to make it a success.

"People kept saying that Gacaca cannot work, but you proved otherwise even when faced with limited resources. Rwandans today live and work together for the common good, well knowing that justice was served," Mukantaganzwa said.

Karugarama said Gacaca will always be an international testimony for trying and delivering justice.

"Some people say that we made mistakes, but I want to remind them that we are not angels. Let us say we made mistakes in ten or one thousand cases, that is a very small fraction compared to the number of cases that Gacaca handled."

"In every justice system, whether in Europe, America or Africa, mistakes happen, but there is always room to revisit particular cases to ensure that no loopholes are left. Rwandans can be proud that through Gacaca, general justice was received."

Gacaca trials officially closed on June.

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