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contribution 12 - NGENDAHAYO Françoise

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Reconciliation

Françoise NGENDAHAYO

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Thank you, Chair. I would like to make a pronouncement on the impact of the Tribunal on reconciliation of Rwanda.

I would rely on a case which I witnessed in Akayesu trial when we were pleading for the voices of the victims to be heard. And we were pleading for or appealing for psychological support, medical care and rehabilitation. And let me take this opportunity to thank the registry which has made a lot of efforts.

At that time, our focus was on victims suffering from HIV/AIDS. Mr Prosper will remember a certain witness called “JJ” who made a high profile testimony and was virtually dying.

And after the trial I went to see that witness and took the judgment to her in French, and her reaction was contrary to my expectation. I thought she would say, "I don’t need this. I need to survive." She told me, "Thank you. Now that I have this judgment, even if I’m unable to read French and unable to write French, I will put it under my pillow and sleep on it until I die." This was an expression of satisfaction for justice delivered. And I think that, in all honesty, we cannot deny the fact that the impact of justice in Rwanda was important.

Second issue, discussing the mandate of the Tribunal in respect of reconciliation. I went I leafed through, rather, the documents pertaining to the establishment of the Tribunal. It was set up to create an enabling context. It was not set up to achieve reconciliation. Nobody can achieve reconciliation except for the Rwandan people themselves.

It is clear that reconciliation cannot be a political decree nor a medical prescription. It is a decision to be taken by those who need to reconcile. And it is the Rwandan people. But the international community is asked to define a favorable context that seeks for prerequisites. And justice is a prerequisite.

And there’s a whole package of rehabilitation and compensation, and we should understand that reconciliation will be an outcome which will come over time. And everything should be done and all the stakeholders should work toward the achievement of that reconciliation.

I don’t want to overemphasise reconciliation, but talking about judgments, somebody called or referred to appeasements, but we need to assess the level of appeasement. And compensation probably heightens appeasement. Someone may wonder if anybody has measured the impact of a plea or a confession. A confession has a major impact. The Kambanda’s plea of guilty, for instance, had a major impact on the Rwandan people, at least to those we spoke to.

You have other achievements of the ICTR regarding reconciliation. Yesterday Mr. Amoussouga mentioned something the “umusanzu center”. I would have preferred that he translated the whole name of this center because that centre was called “Umusanzu Mu Bwiyunge” which in Kinyarwanda means “contribution to reconciliation”. It is important because the young people who will read the documents, who will have access to the records should bear in mind that it will be a guarantee of a never again and that nobody would ever dare do that again. And people will dread killing one another, because they would be afraid of justice. And that is the achievement of the ICTR. Beyond reconciliation, it will also instill the fear of justice.

Let me conclude, Chair, on something which is dear to my heart. I wish to thank the organizers of this meeting. In my life I haven’t witnessed any such thing. And it is important to mention, and I believe that we ought to have invited the real assessors, those who are going to measure the impact of reconciliation. We should have given more place to the victims, because they are the ones to measure the impact. But since this was an in camera session and everybody could not have been here, as well as for professional reasons, I wish that in future Rwandan victims will be included so as to ensure that the victims themselves assess the impact of the ICTR. Thank you.

Vincent CHETAIL

Thank you. Some of the victims are part of our discussion this far, but it will be interesting, admittedly, to deepen the issue according to, well, a study on the ground on reconciliation, and reconciliation, of course, cannot be decreed. And Mr. Schabas cited an example of Germany, which is both an example and a counter example because ultimately France and Germany had to go through world wars to be able to achieve reconciliation. And that shows you just how long reconciliation takes and how it depends on factors that are difficult to quantify.

I will now give the floor to Madam Fadugba.