Village justice

With over 700,000 genocide suspects (almost one in four adults) in the war torn Rwanda, villages are starting local trials to deal with the massive number of suspects.

In the traditional courts, a panel of nine elected community members become judges. The trials are held in the defendant’s place of birth or where they grew up and the audience is encouraged to testify.

Defendants are not allowed to have lawyers and are given the opportunity to confess. If they do, they can be pardoned or have their sentence lessened dramatically.

This system of community courts is not being used for former police and military officers, or the architects of the genocide. Instead, villages are using it as a way to deal with the massive number of perpetrators who would otherwise never stand trial.

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