In This Review

Confessing to Genocide: Responses to Rwanda's Genocide Law
Confessing to Genocide: Responses to Rwanda's Genocide Law
By African Rights
African Rights, 2000, 150 pp
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Justice in Africa
Justice in Africa
By Paul J. Magnarella
Ashgate, 2000, 166 pp
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Emerging from the horror of the 1994 genocide with shattered judicial institutions and a history of impunity for wrongdoers, Rwanda's new government vowed to punish the genocide's perpetrators. With more than 100,000 suspected genocidaires in overflowing prisons by mid-1996, however, the government established a more pragmatic system of plea-bargaining that offered reduced sentences in exchange for confessions and the naming of accomplices. Meanwhile, hoping to compensate for its earlier failure to take Rwanda's problems seriously, the United Nations established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which began prosecuting accused prisoners in 1997. These two carefully researched studies assess, respectively, the progress of judicial proceedings in Rwanda and the Tanzania-based U.N. tribunal. African Rights praises Rwanda's experiment with a procedure that aims at resolving thousands of cases, but it also explains why progress has been too slow and how the country now plans to move to a controversial traditional system of decentralized adjudication. Magnarella, in contrast, is interested primarily in the ways the U.N. tribunal has led to new developments in international humanitarian law, particularly with respect to enforcement of the Geneva Conventions, the Genocide Convention of 1948, and laws proscribing crimes against humanity.