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Justice For AllThe Rwandan genocide was a mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu members by the Hutu majority. It is estimated that between April and July 1994 anywhere between 0.5 to 1 million people were killed. The genocide was planned by a small elite called “the akazu” but it was executed by the army, police, militias and above all, Hutu civilian population. If you are interested in this information, please search Wikipedia for “Rwandan Genocide”. However, history moves on. Eventually a group took over the country (the Rwandan Patriotic Front) and had to deal with the aftermath of the killings. It is this process that interests us.

The key responsible people were tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and by several Rwandan courts. However, about 120,000 people remained jailed for about 10 years and it was estimated that it would have taken another 10 years to give these people a “normal” trial. Faced with this problem, the Rwandan authorities set up “gacaca” (meaning “grass”) village courts. These courts encourages perpetrators to “confess, plead guilty, express repentance and ask for forgiveness for their crimes”. Once perpetrators have done so, their statements are examined and investigated by gacaca courts. If the court finds the statements accurate, then the prisoners accused of the more serious crimes are sentenced to anywhere between 25 to 30 years in prison. Prisoners who choose not to confess, they are sentenced to life in prison (and they actually mean life, as in they will die in prison).

Prisoners accused of lesser crimes are given lesser sentences and some are even released due to time served.

Problem solved!

Justice at work!

Of course, there are always critics stating that this process acts as a “revenge” mechanism of the victors over the losers, but we are not one of them. We believe that justice has not been served but for other reasons. Consider the following.

There are about 120,000 people who have killed. They have destroyed not only lives but the lives of those who depended upon those lives. They have produced a gigantic economic damage which is actually calculable (as opposed to in-calculable). Not only that, but all of those who will remain in prison, will have to be cared for through the expenditure of the taxes paid by their victims. Speaking about adding insult to injury to economic damage (yes, we are talking about the economic damage produced by paying taxes to maintain prisons). Does this make sense? At all?

Of course not!

Again, the purpose of justice is to turn back the arrow of time and undo the damage. If this is not possible then a suitable compensation must be implemented. The perpetrators must compensate the victims to a point at which the life of the victims return to normal from an economic standpoint. This type of calculation is not something new or strange, but routine in almost all countries albeit under labour laws where the costs of lives, limbs and health are calculated. This is not only “doable” but being done. Today. No revolution necessary. What is necessary is a change in mindset and this is the hardest thing to achieve.

Rwandan people got their “justice” but it is the wrong one. They have been “morally” compensated and economically injured, which is obviously a ridiculous outcome. Yet, realpolitik demands it. As politics has been defined as “the art of the possible”, this is what Rwandans get as “possible”. And yet again, this did not have to be so. The very same gacaca courts that investigated prisoners’’ statements could have very easily calculated damages and compensations. Yet, for political reasons it was decided not to do so.

This is not fair enough, this is not even fair. It is for this very reason that we are Libertarians. Because we do believe that our system is inherently better than what we have today. Rwandan victims were not only shortchanged, but they were scammed. Twice. The first time by the perpetrators and the second time by their political masters. So much for the “democratic process”.

But then perhaps you are a Rwandan who lost family in the genocide. Perhaps you are OK with receiving a statement of repentance. That’s OK. That’s your choice. Yet, there are many other Rwandans who would have had a different one should they had been asked. Alas, they were not. Justice, a cold plate, has been denied to them.

But that’s OK because gacaca courts were eventually closed. There. Not even a democratic kind of justice can now be had. Mission accomplished. Right?

Justice is no justice if it leaves the injustice standing. F&P

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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