(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Commission to probe murder and harassment of genocide survivors

[Rwanda] Billboard in Kigali calls people to take part in the Gacaca courts. "If you tell the truth you can be forgiven or the punishment is reduced."

Following reports of murder, harassment and intimidation of Rwandan genocide survivors testifying under the "Gacaca" justice system, a commission has been established to investigate these acts, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Thursday.

The creation of the commission, which will include Rwandan senators, follows a statement of condemnation issued on Tuesday by an umbrella organisation for genocide survivors, known as Ibuka.

"The reason behind the killings and the harassment is to scare away genocide survivors from testifying in Gacaca courts," Ibuka said in its statement.

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.

In a related development, RNA reported that a cabinet meeting on Wednesday also denounced the murder and intimidation of genocide survivors, and called upon security and judicial officials to act in accordance with the law to ensure that those responsible were punished.

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