Forgiveness in Rwanda
Gacaca: Court on the grass
• 85% of the population has participated in
Gacaca in their town.
• Process of the Gacaca:
-Released from prison because of a
-Former inmates have to attend a re-
education course in “civic
“They taught us how to conduct ourselves around the
families of those who had suffered—to behave humbly,
to appear timid in confrontations, to avoid provocation
when facing distraught survivors. To avoid as well the
disorders of AIDS and suchlike illnesses. To learn how to
bake bricks for grieving widows or abandoned
children…They drummed in the lesson: Remain calm
with a guilty spouse, be peaceable with your neighbor,
patient with those who are traumatized, obedient with
the authorities. And don’t delay in getting to work on
clearing your overgrown fields.”
- (The Antelope’s Strategy page 13).
• 7 judges are elected from the local population.
• One Judge reads the accusation.
• The accused then confess and tell the details of
• Then, witnesses are asked to come forward and
tell what they know.
• After that, the judges decide what the penalty
-more time in prison
-restitution (building houses, growing crops)
Problems with the Gacaca
-12,035 courts in existence
-Witnesses are often intimidated and/or killed
-Many feel that the penalties are not severe
enough and that the killers are not confessing
• Perpetrators are encouraged to approach
their victims, confess to their crimes, and ask
• Then, they work to provide restitution for