This paper will assess how alternative approaches to transitional justice have the potential for overcoming tensions in between human rights standards. A rule in international law prescribing that states have a duty to prosecute gross human rights violations has emerged. Accordingly, transitional societies are said to have an obligation to apply criminal justice in dealing with such past violations. In Rwanda, the transitional government decided to prosecute the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide. As a result of widespread participation in the genocide and a devastated legal sector, difficulties in respecting the rights of the accused arose. A group of paralegals known as the "Corps of Judicial Defenders" was thus relied upon as to provide legal assistance for genocide suspects, but also for civil parties. This paper describes the work of these paralegals relating to the transitional trials, and, more generally, asserts how Judicial Defenders may have contributed to justice in other ways in post conflict Rwanda. The author argues that an efficient transitional justice policy must take sufficiently into account the context of the society in question, and aim at establishing linkages between justice in transitions and justice in the long-term.
Activating Human Rights and Peace: Universal Responsibility Conference 2008 Conference Proceedings, 2008, p. 131-139