GYC Village

blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff

It Depends Who You Talk To

The International and Rwandan Participants of the August 2012 GYC Delegation to Rwanda, after their visit to the Ministry of Justice

Visit to Ministry of Justice, 21st August, 2012

Reported by: Raquelle Pasquel and Gloria IMANSIMWE

The delegation’s visit to Rwanda’s Ministry of Justice provided essential information about the current judicial system as well as  comparative material about the community justice system known as the Gacaca court. We met with Jacqueline Bakamurere a legal adviser of the court who was able to answer relative questions the delegates of Global Youth Connect had about the Ministry’s roles and motives. We were told the Ministry exists to promote and facilitate the rule of law, put in place a legal framework for good governance and ensuring effective delivery of legal services to the public as well as promoting reconciliation among Rwandans.
Ms. Bakamurere called to our attention that she would be responding to our questions from a legal stand point and that we should recognize that. This was very important for myself and my fellow colleague as reporters when documenting her responses. Since Ms. Bakamurere was only able to provide legal responses to our questions we received a lot of indirect answers. Such that when we asked the question “ How will the Mistry of Justice ensure fair trials for accused genocide perpetrators?” her  response was “ they go through the processes of trial.”  Interestingly, we got a very non-legal response when we asked the question “What is the Ministry of Justice’s perspective about LBGTI rights in Rwanda?” Ms. Bakamurere said “Rwandans don’t believe in LBGTI rights are considered human rights, the rebuilding of our nation is still too young to think about LBGTI rights and it’s just not part of our culture or religion”. Her response seemed very personal but unfortunately it did represent how most Rwandans perspective, even though we all know that it is not illegal to be LGBT in Rwanda and that the Minister of Justice and the current Rwandan President have said that Rwanda will not discriminate against LGBTI people, and that the constitution’s human rights chapter is sufficient to protect the LGBTI community.
She began the session by giving a short debrief of Rwanda’s history of justice during the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. After the genocide, genocide perpetrators were to be tried in court. It was difficult for the Ministry of justice to manage  all genocide perpetrator trials due to a shortage number of lawyers and courts. The Rwandan government needed a solution for the imbalanced situation of rebuilding the nation and committing to reconciliation. The GACACA court was developed and inspired by traditional justice systems as a tool to promote and implement reconciliation. In GACACA Local mediators tried to avoid courts by helping people to have a realistic quick justice and it brought reconciliation beyond justice. Laws are made as a guidelines and it is the Minstry of Justice’s responsibility to create policies and laws. The GACACA  successfully helped alleviate the  a number of people waiting to be tried in jail.
Other initiatives of reconciliation have been practiced such as training Local mediators, specialized lawyers, solidarity camps (ITORERO and INGANDO) to cultivate servant leaders, Legal aids system.
Overall the Ministry of Justice’s system has truly improved and is slowly developing to be very efficient. They are currently attempting to revise law reforms and more lawyers are in place. We learned that the Minister of Justice acts as the attorney as well. After our meeting with the Ministry’s representative Ms. Bakamurere most delegates felt more inspired to look into legal systems around the world, especially after a conflict.

EDITOR’s NOTE: It is worth noting that Rwanda’s health care sector is also an area where the human rights of the LGBT community have been respected to a great degree. More information about that can be found in the blog post https://gycvillage.org/2010/11/20/gyc-executive-directors-remarks-on-new-school-panel/ and there are some LGBT health related items at youthpolicy.org at http://www.youthpolicy.org/health/2012/03/27/happy-lgbt-health-awareness-week/

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