WCC's Raiser meets with Rwandan genocide suspects held in Tanzania

July 11, 2002

General Secretary Konrad Raiser of the World Council of Churches met with a group of Rwandan genocide suspects being held at a detention camp in Arusha, Tanzania, focusing on the meaning of reconciliation. The July 4 visit was authorized by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

In response to a request from one of the suspects, Raiser defined reconciliation as 'having to do with healing broken relationships, a process which needs time. You can't declare it. It takes time to reach genuine reconciliation.'

The WCC delegation met with the registrar of the International Tribunal and Raiser noted that establishing justice is important to rectify wrongs but argued that focusing on sentence and punishment 'tends to isolate perpetrators from their communities and, as such, the system cannot heal the victims' wounds.'

In response, Adama Dieng said that the traditional courts of Rwanda offer space for dialogue, help establish the truth, and promote a healing process. Yet he noted that the process still lacks some aspects in administering justice.

On its next stop of the African visit, the delegation met in Nairobi, Kenya, with a high-ranking official of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/Army and discussed the peace talks that hope to end decades of civil war, meeting at a secret location in Kenya. Commander Salva Kiir Mayadit said that the delegation from Khartoum lacked the authority to make the concessions that could pave the way for a peace settlement. He predicted that the talks would therefore collapse.