After the 1990–1994 genocide and massacres, more than 120,000 people accused of having taken part were put into prison. The importance of the litigation linked to this tragedy made it impossible to respect the principle of a reasonable period of remand detention for these prisoners.
Changes in the penal laws authorised the detention of prisoners for a long period of time without a formal justification in their case for this detention. Indeed, a great number of prisoners at the time did not have files or if they did the files contained very few charges. In order to fix this irregularity the government and in particular the Public Ministry forced themselves to complete those files which were still empty or hadn’t had a proper prosecution file put together.
The Gacaca jurisdictions were set up- in part- with the aim of speeding up the judicial process and also use the confession and the guilty plea procedure which enables the accused to have a reduced sentence and to finish the second half of the sentence performing Community service. This confession procedure has become the cornerstone of the judicial system dealing with the genocide: all are encouraged to participate (except those, of course, who are innocent).
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