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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Culture of impunity'? Discretionary justice in Rwanda's history
Author:Wagner, Michèle D.ISNI
Periodical:Revue française d'histoire d'outre-mer
Geographic terms:Rwanda
offences against human rights
Abstract:The concept of impunity - the failure to expose human rights violations and to hold their perpetrators accountable - plays a central role in the debates about Rwanda's ongoing crisis. Local actors, politicians, civilians, and armed groups, as well as foreign analysts, use the term impunity to explain Rwanda's past abuses, the continuing violence of its present, and the changes required for reconciliation in the future. As they seldom agree on the term's significance, they render it more and more obscure and impenetrable. Examining the issue from a historical perspective, can we talk of a 'culture of impunity' in Rwanda? And if so, does such a culture date from the precolonial period, from the colonial time, from the revolution of 1959-1961, or from the war of 1990-1994? The analysis of the colonial period underlines two facts: colonists consistently tended to interpret the Rwandan political system of clientelist protection as a system of discretionary favoritism. Simultaneously, Belgians promoted such political inequalities with their project of 'Justice civilisée' that discriminated between 'natives' of 'statut coutumier' and 'statut extra-coutumier'. Notes, ref., sum. in French and English.