For the previous year, Survivors Fund (SURF) has been working with REDRESS on a coordinated project focused on securing reparation for survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

In a brilliant piece in Pambazuka News, Juergen Schurr, legal advisor at REDRESS, writes on the subject of Rwandan genocide survivors still waiting for reparation. He comments that:

At a conference organised in Kigali last month by three organisations that work with genocide survivors – REDRESS, African Rights and IBUKA – survivors stressed once again that they considered that justice without reparation is not justice.

Survivors participating in the conference in Kigali said that they believed the Government of Rwanda should be responsible for establishing a compensation fund. They also thought that resources of the fund could come from the state budget as well as contributions from third countries, the international community, and assets of convicted perpetrators.

Survivors also expressed their fear that with the closure of the gacaca courts this December their right to reparation will be ignored forever. Then, genocide cases will be prosecuted before ordinary courts, and it is still unclear what impact this will have on survivors’ right to claim for compensation.

The fact that the government is drafting legislation to establish a mechanism that will handle issues that have not been addressed by the gacaca courts offers an opportunity to include at last a clear provision for compensation. These efforts should be encouraged as without adequate reparation, accountability efforts run the risk of being meaningless to survivors.

The issue of reparation is particularly timely this week as the UN General Assembly is in session and is expected again to vote on a resolution requesting the UN Secretary General to encourage agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations to support survivors of the genocide.

Such a resolution (UN Resolution 64-226) has been passed at consecutive General Assemblies since the 60th GA but as yet no substantive support has been received by the survivors. In light of the above call from survivors for reparation, we hope this time will be different.

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