Courts in Conflict: Interpreting the Layers of Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Hardcover | April 15, 2015

byNicola Palmer

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The rise of international criminal trials has been accompanied by a call for domestic responses to extraordinary violence. Yet there is remarkably limited research on the interactions among local, national, and international transitional justice institutions. Rwanda offers an early example ofmulti-level courts operating in concert, through the concurrent practice of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the national Rwandan courts, and the gacaca community courts.Courts in Conflict makes a crucial and timely contribution to the examination of these pluralist responses to atrocity at a juncture when holistic approaches are rapidly becoming the policy norm. Although Rwanda's post-genocide criminal courts are compatible in law, an interpretive cultural analysisshows how and why they have often conflicted in practice. The author's research is derived from 182 interviews with judges, lawyers, and a group of witnesses and suspects within all three of the post-genocide courts. This rich empirical material shows that the judges and lawyers inside each of thecourts offer notably different interpretations of Rwanda's transitional justice processes, illuminating divergent legal cultures that help explain the constraints on the courts' effective cooperation and evidence gathering. The potential for similar competition between domestic and internationaljustice processes is apparent in the current practice of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, this competition can be mitigated through increased communication among the different sites of justice, fostering legal cultures of complementarity that can more effectively respond to the needsof affected populations.

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The rise of international criminal trials has been accompanied by a call for domestic responses to extraordinary violence. Yet there is remarkably limited research on the interactions among local, national, and international transitional justice institutions. Rwanda offers an early example ofmulti-level courts operating in concert, thr...

Nicola Palmer is a lecturer in criminal law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London, and a research associate at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. In addition, she serves as an advisory board member of Oxford Transitional Justice Research. Dr. Palmer received her D.Phil in law from the University of Ox...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.41 × 6.42 × 0.98 inPublished:April 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199398194

ISBN - 13:9780199398195

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsMap of RwandaIntroductionAbbreviations1. The Rwandan Social Context2. Inside the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda3. Inside the Rwandan National Courts4. Inside the Gacaca Courts5. Legitimating Transitional Justice in Rwanda6. ConclusionAppendixGlossaryBibliographyTable of CasesTable of StatutesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"For the authoritative comparative study into all aspects of the transnational judicial reckoning with Rwanda's genocide and a fresh interpretation of the role courts can play in reestablishing institutional legitimacy after political transition--read this book." --Ruti Teitel, Ernst C. Stiefel Prof of Comparative Law, New York Law School and Author, Globalizing Transitional Justice