[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] Monday urged [HRW statement] Rwandan judges and police to investigate and stop attacks on individuals administering or testifying in local tribunals known as Gacaca courts [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder] to bring those allegedly involved in the 1994 genocide [HRW backgrounder; BBC backgrounder] to justice. In a report [text] released by the rights watchdog Monday, HRW cited the November deaths of nine individuals in retaliation for the murder of a judge's nephew and a separate murder of another judge in charge of a grassroots court. Alison Des Forges, the senior Africa advisor for HRW, said:
Killings of genocide survivors cost human lives and threaten the delivery of justice. Prompt and effective law enforcement is the way to deal with this threat, not reprisal killings. Reprisal killings have been rare in the past, but if they become more frequent, they could spur a new cycle of violence.The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official website; JURIST news archive] has been hearing cases against suspected masterminds behind the genocide, but the Gacaca courts are trying local suspects, including over 14,000 judges charged with genocide [JURIST report] in 2005. Gacaca courts have the authority to impose sentences ranging from community service to life in prison. Des Forges also stressed the importance of accurate police investigations of those cases tried through the Gacaca system. AFP has more.