Rwanda

Rwanda: Genocide survivor group denounces killings, harassment

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KIGALI, 16 December (IRIN) - An umbrella organisation for genocide survivors in Rwanda, known as Ibuka, has denounced the killing, harassment and intimidation of its members over their testimony under the "Gacaca" justice system.
"The reason behind the killings and the harassment is to scare away genocide survivors from testifying in Gacaca courts," Ibuka said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The Gacaca justice system, based on traditional village courts, was introduced in the country in 2001 to expedite trials for an estimated 85,000 suspects held in prisons across the country in connection with the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people.

The Gacaca justice system supplements the country's regular courts and is intended to boost the reconciliation of all ethnic communities in the country.

Ibuka reported that four of its members were killed in the last half of 2003 in the southwestern province of Gikongoro and the central province of Gitarama, after they showed interest in testifying in the Gacaca courts.

"These killings are well planned and target one section of people with the intention of keeping their lips shut," Ibuka reported. "We condemn this and call upon relevant authorities to take action."

It said that several of its members had been harassed and some had been forced to leave their ancestral homes to seek refuge elsewhere.

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