With the gacaca courts set to close in December 2008, the Rwandan government is trying to streamline and expedite the process. In March, the government expanded the jurisdiction of the gacaca courts to include cases of alleged rapists and planners of the genocide. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have expressed concerns that the increased pace and caseload of the traditional courts have come at the expense of fairness.
Tasked with trying the most high level genocide cases, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has secured the arrest of over seventy people and concluded twenty convictions and five acquittals. It recently upheld the war crimes and genocide conviction of Father Athanase Seromba, a Roman Catholic priest. When 1,500 parishioners took shelter in his church in the town of Nyange, Father Seromba had the church leveled by bulldozers and ordered gunmen to shoot anyone who tried to flee. There were no survivors.
In July, the Security Council extended the mandate of the ICTR for another year. Originally due to conclude at the end of 2008, the ICTR needs the additional time to clear its trials: six cases involving nineteen people are ongoing; two are scheduled to commence; and four more are preparing for trial. Thirteen war criminals remain at large. In the next year, Tribunal officials especially hope to capture and try: Augustin Bizimana, a former defense minister; Felicien Kabuga, a businessman accused of buying machetes used in the genocide; and two former army officers, Protais Mpiranya and Idelphonse Nizeyimana.
This September, Rwanda will hold its first parliamentary elections since 2003, when women achieved 48% of the seats in the National Assembly, the highest proportion of women legislators in the world. Out of a total eighty seats, the National Assembly reserves twenty-four seats for women, two for youth, and one for the disabled.