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contribution 04 - VIDAL Claudine

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Issues of translation - Reconciliation

Claudine VIDAL

transtlated version

In the little time I have, I am going to tackle a few issues which are of concern to the researcher which may seem shallow, but, as far as I am concerned, that is an expert’s opinion. I was struck by Thierry Cruvellier’s statement when he said that reviewing the Akayesu judgment and the Bagosora judgment, we realized the strides made by the Tribunal in its historical account.

I completely agree. This historical record is very important to us, and we are all aware of the extent to which historians rely on these documents, differently from jurists, not for the purpose of making criticisms but to ensure free thinking. What is important is reviewing the judgments as well as this entire historical record billed by the Tribunal with witness statements.

I was very attentive to what Alphonse Mpatswenumugabo said, as interpreter. It would be disastrous to lose that source in Kinyarwanda. So it is essential to put that record in Kinyarwanda, not only for the pleasure of researchers. It might seem a selfish interest, but being aware of the fact that Rwandans use history to tear each other apart, if they do not have the compelling material setting the record straight in Kinyarwanda, at least this will trigger more objective discourse or rhetoric.

Now, in terms of the work accomplished by the Tribunal, it would be important that, subsequently, and probably this in years to come, future generations of Rwandans should be able to know what was said and done by Rwandans at this tribunal in their own language.

I was also struck by Thomas Kamilindi’s statement when he said that when a judgment was delivered against the man who sought his destruction, he became very emotional. This is a question that is raised by researchers, which is the impact of judgments on the people? And historians go for the judgments as a source of information. And that was said yesterday. But, collectively, we are not fully aware. And I must say I was very happy to hear that reaction, because I knew there was an impact, but I was not sure about that impact. But it was good to hear what happens, what impact it has. I am referring to what happened on “the hills”.

My last comment relates to Resolution 955 stating that the Tribunal should contribute to the process of national reconciliation. That was a quote. Clearly, the link between justice and reconciliation are as two words which have been used at least 30 times every day since the beginning of this forum.

First of all, I have to set the record straight. I have been quite uncomfortable with the term "reconciliation", although it has gone into to the realm of politics. But I have never understood why victims would want to reconcile with their own hangmen, especially if those people do not clearly and specifically seek their forgiveness or unwilling to reconcile.

But that is also the link between justice and reconciliation which becomes like an incantation because it is said over and over again and we may tend to believe it. This seems to be, you know, rhetoric.

And justice has been lamed. But in that case, it would not contribute to national reconciliation, and it will further frustrate people. Trying to peg justice and reconciliation together seems to fall in the realm of the imaginary of conjecture.

But we can also envision a justice which is on its two feet. I do not believe that if it is on its two feet, it might have any impact on national reconciliation. As Thomas said, it will have an impact to appease and to atone and alleviate the pain.

But I am not trying to downplay the importance of justice. Reconciliation is the work of politicians. It is up to the politicians of a country to achieve that with the support of all those who are in favour of such reconciliation. I do not believe that that should be the call of justice.
Thank you.


And that is the fundamental ambivalence of international criminal justice. In this specific case it has a symbolic function. We have mentioned judicial notice of genocide and also the fact that our supposed virtue becomes an incantation, and that is also the interest of the International Criminal Court because it also encapsulates the fundamental dilemmas of justice and the links which are somewhat contradictory with reconciliation.
I would like to give the floor first to Catherine Newbury who is a professor at the Smith College in Northampton.