Violence against civilians in conflict is the bane of current time as war crimes, crimes against humanity, violence against women and children and the most heinous of these crimes, that of Genocide have in some conflicts been committed with impunity.
But Defense Minister Gen. James Kabarebe suggests the global community must end the mindset of impunity on whoever gets involved in mass atrocities committed in conflict which have been a feature of war since time immemorial.
The two-week course looks to equip the military, police and civilian with skills and knowledge to address genocide and mass atrocity crimes by developing effective, contextual and appropriate transitional justice strategies and mechanisms.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of ‘Genocide, Mass Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice in Peace Support Operations’ Regional Course on Monday in Nyakinama, Musanze District in Northern Province, Gen. Kabarebe said the course should be a way to address different atrocity issues that the global society is facing through possible legal or any other successful approach.
“As future peacekeepers, you are likely to face challenges related to transitional initiatives in peace support operations where you may be deployed. You will therefore be expected to assist, advice and contribute to the development of the transitional justice mechanisms and I hope this workshop will surely be very important for you while practicing” he told participants.
The course was preceded by two curriculum development workshops that brought together subject matter experts from Rwanda and the United Kingdom (UK) and will be attended by a total of 24 military, police and civilian officers from eight countries, namely Comoros, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia and Rwanda as well as one officer from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
Col. Jill Rutaremara, the Director of the Rwanda Peace Academy, said the course draws experience from Rwanda and other countries that experienced genocide and mass atrocity crimes as well as the consequent transitional justice systems in the context of Peace Support Operations.
Rwanda has proved doubters wrong
Gen. Kabarebe shared participants the most efficient way Rwanda has provided justice to all after Genocide to end long term impunity which resulted to the 1994 tragedy.
He explained how Gacaca arbitrations worked to complete Genocide related cases basing on community-centered witnesses.
He said it was an approach, without which the justice process would have taken over a century to complete the cases regarding crimes of Genocide, which cost the lives of over a million of Tutsi victims in a period of only 100 days, Minister Kabarebe has urged participant to learn from Rwanda’s experience to better address crime-related cases successfully, for the interest of violence victims.
He admits as administered by conventional courts, could not achieve these outcomes but hails Rwanda’s approach has worked out after the experience and lessons learnt have contributed to the building of a resilient Rwandan society
“Learning from our country’s experience, the most important is that Rwanda successfully dealt with post-Genocide atmosphere with a socially fractured community characterized by divisionism, suspicion and mistrust but, through an excellent, quick, less costly justice system was introduced to both address the longstanding impunity and promote unity and reconciliation as well as the social harmony at the same time as justice,” he said
He tasked participants to share further experiences on different transitional justice mechanisms practiced in each of their respective countries to jointly address the problem of perpetrators of violence.
The ‘Genocide, Mass Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice in Peace Support Operations’ was organized and is being conducted by Rwanda Peace Academy under the support of the British High Commissioner, His Excellency William Gelling and from the Commander of the British Peace Support Team, Col. Richard Leakey.
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