Putting Rwanda Back Together
THE only thing worse than genocide is the repeat of it. That is why President Clinton's recent authorization of $7 million to support reconstruction of Rwanda's judiciary and the war crimes tribunal is so important. Establishment of a secure environment in which rule of law is respected is essential to persuading the millions of traumatized Rwandans in refugee camps outside the country to return home.
The prosecution of the criminals who organized the systematic massacre of hundreds of thousands is also desperately needed if the country is to find peace. But without the help of the international community, none of this will be possible.
The judicial system in Rwanda is in ruins. Many of the judges, attorneys, and investigators were killed or exiled during the fighting and most court facilities have been destroyed. Meanwhile, thousands of suspected criminals languish in overcrowded prisons as the government attempts to bring charges against them.
Helping Rwanda resolve the terrible acts of war that were committed last year is not just the moral thing to do. It is also, as Mr. Clinton noted, in our national interest. Americans have given nearly $300 million in aid to Rwanda since the start of last year's war - much of that to relief and development organizations like CARE. But the millions of dollars the world dispensed last year to provide short-term relief aid to Rwanda will be wasted unless we focus our time and attention to assist Rwandans in
finding long-term solutions.
The judicial process will help to do this. So too will support of rehabilitation programs that help Rwandans return home and give them seeds, tools, and other materials to help them rebuild. Development - the type that deals with the deep-rooted historical problems that sparked the violence (such as scarce land and economic inequality) - is desperately needed to bring this shattered country back from the brink.