Compensation

6 Jun 2013

New impetus in Genocide reparation cases.
By Jean de la Croix Tabaro, The New Times.
June 06, 2013.

The Government is designing a new strategy to ensure that all issues related to compensation of Genocide survivors are sorted by December.

The process has started with an assessment of the Gacaca judgments that were not executed, according to Pascal Bizimana Ruziganintwari, the deputy attorney general and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice.

Speaking to The New Times on Tuesday, Bizimana said the decision was reached after consultative meetings with various stakeholders, including associations of Genocide survivors.

Of the 599,025 Gacaca judgments related to properties, 158,095 were not executed, according to the Special Justice Taskforce commissioned this year by Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremye to analyse injustice faced by Genocide survivors.

Gacaca

In another report, the Justice ministry established that this year alone, 200,000 Gacaca cases that involves reparation out of which around 300,000 were enforced.

“After ascertaining the number of property cases that were not enforced, we will support local entities and court bailiffs so that we execute all the remaining cases by the end of the year,” said Bizimana.

In an October 2012 discussion paper, the associations of Genocide survivors issued various recommendations to government on the need for a reparation fund.

Restitution mooted 

Referring to the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines 19-23, 10 associations, including Ibuka, Surf, AERG, Redress and Duhozanye, recommended restitution.

They defined  this form of reparation as a legal practice that aims at restoring a victim to their situation before the tragedy. 

Restitution includes return to one’s place of residence, restoration of employment and return of property, among others.

They also requested compensation for physical or mental harm, lost opportunities, moral damage and costs required for legal or expert assistance, medical services, psychological and social services.

“Compensation is central to the right to an effective remedy and to reparation, particularly when restoring the victim to the situation before the gross violation took place,” reads the document.

Quoting the document, Albert Gasake, the legal advisor of the Survivors Fund, Surf, said the majority of survivors are yet to have receive compensation and/or restitution awarded by courts, despite promises to the effect in the last 18 years.

The document blamed the State, saying even though it was declared jointly liable with the accused in several cases, and compensation awards were made against the State, none of these civil verdicts against the State were enforced.

It also faults the idea of alternative punishment for culprits who fail to get compensation (TIG) “because it benefits only the State and not the survivors.”

Mode of reparation

However, Bizimana said reparation exercise should be seen in Rwandan context before relying on foreign experiences.

He said reparation can be addressed by either looking at the general context, or on individual point of view.

“The government, within its financial capacity, opted to look at the general interests as of reparation of Genocide survivors rather than looking at it from individual point of view. It’s in that context that we established the Fund for Assistance of Genocide Survivors,” he said.

“Through this Fund, the government provides shelter, school and medication to the most vulnerable survivors such as children, the elderly and the disabled.”

Bizimana said crime is a sole responsibility of the offender, which means that the State cannot help culprits to pay damages for their crimes.

Nevertheless, if someone is found guilty, the Rwandan law gives the survivors the right to appeal for reparation on individual basis, he said.

He added that even the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania, has a clause which allows Genocide survivors to file in Rwandan courts reparation cases against convicts it tries.

Naftali Ahishakiye, the executive secretary of Ibuka, said more efforts are needed in compensation.