A new course at Rwanda’s Peace Academy has been launched to help equip both civilians and members of security institutions with skills in restorative justice above civilian protection in host nations.
Rwanda provides a good case study on how post genocide challenges were successfully handled especially the trial of about 150,000 genocide suspects that participated in the murder of a million Tutsi men, women and children in 1994.
Through adoption of unconventional methods immediately after genocide, Rwanda addressed the longstanding problem of impunity while at the same time promoting social harmony.
However, if Rwanda had chosen to use national conventional courts, it would take hundreds of years for any tangible outcome.
Even the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) couldn’t also have provided a good solution. For example, the ICTR held its first trial in Arusha, Tanzania, in 1997 and as of 2014, the tribunal had completed only 75 cases with a budget worth £1 billion to sentence just 43 people.
The trainees both civilians and members of the security institutions will gain understanding of Genocide, Mass Atrocity Crimes and Transitional Justice in Peace Support Operations.
Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), officially opened this course that has attracted 24 military, police and civilians from seven African countries namely: Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Zambia and hosts Rwanda.
“As future peacekeepers, you will be expected to provide advice on the measures to prevent genocide and mass atrocity crimes. You will also be expected to contribute to capacity development of judicial institutions and mechanisms particularly those of the Host Nations, ” Gen. Nyamvumba.
Troubled countries where peacekeepers are deployed, members of the local population and international community usually have high expectations in peacekeepers both in the protection of civilians, and in administration of justice. This course is therefore important and relevant.
He said that experiences and lessons learnt from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi have contributed to building a coherent and highly resilient Rwandan society.
In 2009, Gen. Nyamvumba was appointed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as overall Force Commander for the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
The CDS however, cautioned the team on the nature of contemporary peacekeeping operations, “They function in constantly changing and unpredictable environments with different actors characterised by different and sometimes conflicting interests.
Cooperation and engagement with the host government and the opposing party or parties is sometimes not forthcoming.”
However, violence against civilians and in particular, women and children continues to characterise a number of peacekeeping missions despite many of them having protection of civilian’s mandate.
Trainees at the academy will build capacity to generate solutions based on the history, culture and context of host countries.
The course is funded by the British government and its subsidiary organisation, the British Peace Support Team (BPST) while working closely with the Rwanda Peace Academy to deliver the training.