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79 Temp. L. Rev. 1 (2006)
Mass Justice for Mass Atrocity: Rethinking Local Justice as Transitional Justice

handle is hein.journals/temple79 and id is 9 raw text is: TEMPLE LAW REVIEW
© 2006 TEMPLE UNIVERSITY OF THE COMMONWEALTH SYSTEM OF HIGHER
EDUCATION
VOL. 79 NO. 1                                                        SPRING 2006
ARTICLES
MASS JUSTICE FOR MASS ATROCITY: RETHINKING
LOCAL JUSTICE AS TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE
Lars Waldorj*
Forgiveness is better than justice.
-Sign held up by a Rwandan genocide detainee'
Don't ask me for forgiveness!
-A Rwandan mother whose child was killed during the genocide2
* World Policy Institute, The New School. B.A., 1985, Harvard College; J.D., 1989, Harvard Law School.
The author was a Fellow at Harvard Law School's Human Rights Program (2004-2005) after running Human
Rights Watch's field office in Rwanda from 2002 to 2004. The author has been observing gacaca (community
court) proceedings in Rwanda since they began in 2002, and he is currently writing a book on gacaca with
generous support from the United States Institute of Peace. The author is indebted to Anne Aghion, James
Cavallaro, Nancy Combs, Alison Des Forges, Klaas de Jonge, Sally Engle Merry, Mark Osiel, Christian
Ranheim, Naomi Roht-Arriaza, and Henry Steiner.
1. Presentation of genocide detainees before the local population that determined whether some should
be provisionally released for lack of evidence, in Butare town stadium (Sept. 27, 2002) (author's notes).
Interviews or notes done by the author, or in the author's presence, are clearly marked as such. Those not so
labeled were done by the author's Rwandan assistants in his absence.
2. Field notes from a gacaca session, in Butare Province, Rwanda (Jan. 16, 2003) (on file with author).
There are no gacaca transcripts. One of the gacaca judges takes minutes of the sessions, but these are not
publicly available. Audio and video recordings are generally forbidden, and, at one point, a government
minister even prohibited observers from taking handwritten notes. See infra note 470 and accompanying text.
This underscores gacaca's political sensitivity. Consequently, this Article rarely identifies gacaca participants
or interviewees. Also, it avoids specifying gacaca locations for fear of creating problems for local officials,
gacaca participants, and the author's research assistants. This Article refers to provinces as they existed before.
the 2006 administrative restructuring.

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