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Goats & Graves: Reparations In Rwanda’s Community Courts

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Chapter Summary

Despite the growing literature on gacaca, there has been relatively little attention paid to its role in providing reparations to genocide survivors. In some ways, this reflects the priorities of many transitional justice scholars and policymakers: reparations are often an afterthought, while economic rights and poverty reduction are rarely thought of at all. Rwanda's gacaca courts provide a fascinating case study on the costs and benefits of using community-level dispute resolution mechanisms to provide both individualised and community reparations. This chapter begins by situating gacaca within the broader context of recovery and reparations in post-genocide Rwanda. It then examines three forms of reparations provided by gacaca: financial restitution to genocide survivors; community service from convicted genocidaires; and symbolic reparations in the form of perpetrator apologies and locating remains. Finally, it discusses the lessons and implications of using community-based mechanisms to provide reparations after mass violence.

Keywords: genocide survivors; mass violence; Rwanda's gacaca courts; transitional justice



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