For anybody who thinks that participants on a Study Visit have an easy time, then think again. Today we had a really packed, busy but extremely valuable day that started at 9 in the morning and ended at 11 at night! We were treated to a range of lectures and discussions on various topics yet we also found time to have fascinating conversations with some unexpected guests.
We started the day with a visit to the National Museum of Rwanda, that is located in Habyarimana’s house. Our wonderful tour guide shared lots of information and stories about the house and its history with us. We all enjoyed peeking at the remnants of presidential plane (that was shot down on 6th of April 1994 and went down directly to the compound of presidential residency); we visited also presidents’ private quarters and even saw President Habyarimana’s pet python’s swimming pool (the python was thankfully long since gone).
We then set off to our first lecture of the day which was held in our ‘own’ lecture room at the St. Paul Pastorale. It was given by Denis Bikesha from the National Service of Gacaca Courts and he told us more about the role they have played in transitional justice in post-genocide Rwanda. He provided us with an insight into the workings of the gacaca courts as well as the challenges faced and successes enjoyed by this form of justice. We took part in a very lively and interesting question and answer session, and once again, the lecture took up much more time than we’d anticipated.
The focus of our afternoon session was the role of the justice sector in post-war reforms in Rwanda. It was given by Alphonse Hitiyaremye and John Bosco from the Prosecutor General’s Office. They gave us an overview of how the prosecution system is organised and also how the justice sector has played such an important role in reconciliation.
Dodging the downpours, we then went for dinner at a Rwandese restaurant called Karibu where we enjoyed the company of two unexpected guests, Mrs Usta Kaitesi (a lecturer in faculty of Law at National University of Rwanda) and Dr Kazuyuki Sasaki. We were very grateful to them for sharing their vast experience and knowledge with us in an informal setting, but we had so many questions for Dr Sasaki that he kindly agreed to come back to our hotel to continue our discussions… until 11 o’clock at night!