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Establishing collective norms: potentials for participatory justice in Rwanda

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In June 2002, the Republic of Rwanda embarked on an extraordinary experiment in transitional justice, inaugurating the pilot phase of a new participatory justice system called Inkiko-Gacaca. This article-the result of 8 weeks of research involving interviews with government and nongovernmental organization officials, local judges, and prisoners, and extensive observations of the Inkiko-Gacaca process in several different rural communities-explores the system's potential for healing inter-group conflict through a collaborative process of establishing common social and moral norms. The historical and theoretical background of Inkiko-Gacaca is followed by an in-depth case study of 3 communities. Relating intergroup contact theory to the actual experiences of Rwandans participating in this transitional justice system, we emphasize the need to revise the theory's often-implied assumption of homogeneity in participant perspectives. This analysis illustrates 4 very different levels of trust at which Rwandans participate in the Inkiko-Gacaca system, and the dangers, as well as the positive potential, that this wide distribution of perceptions implies. Ultimately, the research indicates some specific ways in which Inkiko-Gacaca could address the concerns of its most disillusioned participants, to help ensure that its contribution to the process of social reconstruction in Rwanda is a positive one.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/29273/

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