The process has not been without its critics. Human rights groups have objected to the lack of legal representation for the accused, who are tried in abstentia if they repeatedly fail to fulfill their summons. Some experts even raise concern about the scope of jursdiction, which does not include crimes alleged to have been committed by the Rwandan Patriot Front, the former rebel forces led by President Kagame and credited with ending the genocide.
" has focused on even the most minute property crimes that were committed by Hutu against Tutsi," says Longman. "The problem is that there has been very little justice on the flip side of that; that is, there's been almost no accountability for RPF crimes against Hutu."
But Stephen Kinzer, author of the Kagame biography "A Thousand Hills," says has been necessarily limited from the outset by its dual purposes.
" tries to combine the two necessities [Rwandans] see in the reconciliation process. One is justice, that is, the punishment of the guilty, and the other is reconciliation. In many ways, the two are contradictory. The system, although highly imperfect, is a way to try to balance those two," Mr. Kinzer says.
Gacaca testimonies can be hard to hear
has gotten mixed marks inside Rwanda, as well. Some survivors question the need to dredge up the past; others say the national healing process requires the information they produce. Even some who support the courts have difficulty participating.
"My sister refused to go to ," Uwimana says. "Every time she was thinking about her two boys [who died in the genocide], she would fall apart. She was too fragile to go there."
Government officials had anticipated that kind of reaction. In 2003, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission surveyed Rwandans to measure expectations, a full year before pilots began. Over 50 percent of survivors expected giving or listening to testimony to retraumatize them.