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Reconciliation potential of Rwandans convicted of genocide

Journal The International Journal of Restorative Justice, Issue 2 2019
Keywords Rwanda, genocide, perpetrators, posttraumatic stress, reconciliation
Authors Kevin Barnes-Ceeney, Laurie Leitch and Lior Gideon
AbstractAuthor's information

    This study examines the reconciliation potential of Rwandans incarcerated for the crime of genocide. Utilising survey data from 302 male and female prisoners incarcerated in the Rwandan Correctional System, this study explores genocide perpetrators’ depression, anxiety, anger-hostility and somatic symptoms, levels of posttraumatic stress, degree of social support and attitudes towards unity and reconciliation. The data demonstrate that engaging in killing can have deep psychological impacts for genocide perpetrators. The data indicate that although more than two decades have passed since the genocide, perpetrators are experiencing high levels of genocide-related posttraumatic suffering. Perpetrators are persistently re-experiencing genocide, purposefully avoiding thoughts and memories of the genocide, and experiencing physical and emotional arousal and reactivity. The sample had a strong desire for all Rwandans to live in peace and unity. There is, however, an urgent need for physical and mental health interventions, as well as services that facilitate the rebuilding of family relationships well in advance of release. Improving the physical and mental well-being of both perpetrators of the genocide and victims can only be a positive development as Rwanda continues to build a unified, reconciled and resilient future.


Kevin Barnes-Ceeney
Kevin Barnes-Ceeney is Assistant Professor at the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, University of New Haven, West Haven, USA.

Laurie Leitch
Laurie Leitch is Director, Threshold GlobalWorks, New York, USA.

Lior Gideon
Lior Gideon is Professor of Criminal Justice at the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, USA.
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