There will be no humanity without forgiveness,
there will be no forgiveness without justice, but justice will be impossible without humanity.
- Yolande Mukagasana
As the following video clips will demonstrate the Gacaca courts were implemented by the Rwandan government in an attempt to limit international punitive and costly judicial systems. In addition, asking how would restoration be fostered?
“Instead, the government proposed to set up community-based courts to try genocide-related crimes using the customary gacaca model. Aimed at speeding up genocide trials, reducing the prison population, and rapidly rebuilding the nation’s social fabric, the new form of gacaca, like its customary predecessor, would be run by local judges and would encourage participation of local community members. One of the government's aims in encouraging community participation was to make ordinary Rwandans the main actors in the process of dispensing justice and fostering reconciliation. A series of gacaca laws would regulate the genocide trials, mixing certain basic fair trial standards with more informal procedures”.
Human Rights Watch, 2011
Restorative justice uses a different lens to view reconciliation and self healing. As practitioners it is valuable to incorporate a methodology that uses the client perspective and innate understanding of their own ability to identity what they need for self healing, to find inner peace, restore joy in their lives, and to feel justice.
How often as practitioners do we ask:
“What justice do you require from society to support your personal healing?” (Mollica, 2006, p. 243)
Punitive judicial systems do not address reconciliation nor do they address social healing after gang violence, domestic violence, or other forms of person to person violence.
This is a complex topic with multifaceted perspectives and arguments. These videos are just scratching the surface, but it does challenge and promote thought. The gap in viewpoints can be the political and society systematic oppression and social inequalities based on ethnicity, race, and individualistic agendas. In addition to our domestic culture of punitive judicial systems that favors isolation vs assimilation, retribution vs reciprocity, and ostracizing vs reconciliation. In addition to taking into consideration the cultural value of indigenous population, where a collective society framework serves to promote social healing. Looking through this lens, it does challenge us to look at our own social norms in achieving “social justice” and the potential for short comes in fostering social healing.