Trauma informed restorative justice through community based sociotherapy in Rwanda

Abstract: Restorative justice, when trauma informed, has a great potential to effectively contribute to sustainable peace in post conflict settings. An evidence based example of a programme illustrating such effect is community based sociotherapy in Rwanda. This article documents what this programme has achieved in terms of restorative justice, following the closure of Gacaca, the community based justice system that was in operation in Rwanda nationwide from 2005 to 2012. In total, 155 respondents to 23 focus group discussions and 39 individual interviewees, including former participants of sociotherapy, leaders on sector and district level and government representatives at national level, participated in outcome studies that inform this article. The majority of respondents indicated that sociotherapy generates a process of genuine healing and reconciliation, resulting in peacebuilding at family and community level, as well as wider social change. The challenge is how to scale-up sociotherapy interventions without losing trauma informed characteristics.

Ingabire, Chantal Marie; Kagoyire, Grace; Karangwa, Diogene; Ingabire, Noella; Habarugira, Nicolas; Jansen, Angela; Richters, Annemiek