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Jan 15

USC Shoah Foundation and Agahozo Shalom Youth Village visit the Gacaca Archives

Gacaca USC Shoah Visit
A delegation from the USC Shoah Foundation, based in the United States, together with a delegation from Agahozo Shalom Youth Village visited the Gacaca Archives to learn about the process of digitising the more than 63 million pages of records from the Gacaca Courts. USC Shoah Foundation is an institute for visual history and education. It also makes audio-visual interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. They visited the Gacaca Archives to learn about the work to preserve the memory of Gacaca Courts since their conclusion in 2012. The delegation was met by the Director General of the Research and Documentation Centre on Genocide from Rwanda’s National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Dr. Jean-Damascène Gasanabo. Giving a brief history of the archives, Dr. Gasanabo said that the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide and its partners have been preserving and creating a world-class archive for the estimated 63 million pages of documents and more than 8,000 pieces of audio visual content. This work has been ongoing over the last three years. Stressing the importance of the Gacaca archives as a tool for research and learning about the Genocide against the Tutsi, Dr. Gasanabo thanked the USC Shoah Foundation and Aegis Trust as partners for making this project a reality. “On behalf of CNLG and Rwanda, I would like to appreciate all your support in terms of expertise and finance to create and sustain something like this, which I consider as a vital legacy to all Rwandans,” said Dr. Gasanabo. Yves Kamuronsi, Country Director of Aegis Trust, expressed how honoured the organisation feels to be part of a project with indispensable significance to Rwanda and the world. “Aegis Trust aims to warn the world of the threat of genocide and build the political will to take preventive action against mass atrocities. We are proud to contribute and will continue to give our support to such a project that preserves the memory of the Genocide against the Tutsi for many generations to come,” Mr. Kamuronsi said. He added that as time passes and technology develops, families would be able to search for the records of their loved ones. He said that the Gacaca Archives would help to answer their questions because it contains details of when and how victims of the Genocide were killed and where their bodies were buried. The Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation, Dr. Steven Smith, appreciated the great work that has been done by both CNLG and Aegis Trust to preserve and digitise the Gacaca Archives. He promised continuous collaboration for the success of the project and stressed the necessity to preserve a very important aspect of Rwandan history. To learn more about the project to archive the Gacaca Court records, visit www.gacaca.rw.
Oct 01

Gacaca Archives Update: State-of-the-art scanners arrive in Rwanda

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Two state of the art scanners have been installed at the Gacaca Archives in Kigali. The scanners will play a crucial role in the digitisation of more than 60 million pages of documents. To begin, the scanners will be used in the pilot phase of digitisation, allowing the team to establish efficient systems and process to scan all documents contained in the archive. A team of twelve Gacaca Archives staff will be trained by specialists from the United Kingdom in the use of the scanners. This training is being organised by King’s College London – a member of the consortium that is working together to preserve the archives. The two world-class scanners include one feeder scanner, which is designed to scan individual pages, and one book scanner, which is designed to scan books and registers. The archive team has already been trained in uploading scanned documents to Islandora, an open source digital repository system that will be used to organise the Gacaca Archives. The international consortium includes Rwanda’s National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG), Aegis Trust, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the USC Shoah Foundation, and King’s College London. This team of organisation is working to stabilise and rehouse the archive, digitise it and make it available worldwide. They will also provide tools and interpretive materials so that it can be used in many different contexts – for example by students or researchers. The Gacaca Archives consist of some 18,000 boxes containing over 60 million handwritten pages of unique documentation. Alongside this wealth of information is video recordings and audio testimonies on DVDs, magnetic tapes, cassettes and CDs. Together, these materials document the Genocide against the Tutsi. They are a historical source without parallel, allowing an unprecedented insight into the darkest days of Rwanda’s past. The project to digitise the Gacaca Archives will ensure that future generations of Rwandans and researchers and scholars from around the world are able to access the archive, learn from what happened and ensure Genocide never happens again, in Rwanda or elsewhere. The pilot phase of digitisation using the two new scanners will include training the trainers and designing a workflow system that will serve as the template for full implementation of the Gacaca Archives digitisation. This will ensure the main phase will be done efficiently and effectively.
Apr 01

Impact brief by Dr. Jean Damascene GASANABO

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A Stakeholder Workshop Enabling the digital society: An Impact plan for the Gacaca Archive Project. On 22nd January, 2015 CNLG, AEGIS TRUST and all its Stakeholders held a workshop on the theme “Enabling the digital society: An Impact plan for the Gacaca Archive Project”. Also present at the workshop was Professor Marilyn Deegan from King’s College London, an expert in digital humanities and an experienced manager of large-scale digital projects. Dr. Jean-Damascène Gasanabo, Director General of the Research and Documentation Center on Genocide within the CNLG in his opening remarks said; ‘We are here this afternoon in the framework of the digitalization process of the Gacaca documents. This follows our meeting of December 11, 2014 where CNLG together with Aegis Trust and with the support of our partners, namely King’s College of London, UK, the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation, NIOD Institute for Genocide and Holocaust Studies in The Netherlands officially launched our collaboration showing our action plan, our strategies, posing our questions and discussing our challenges’. Being a government institution, CNLG has the obligation to collaborate with other government institutions that have a word to say on Gacaca documents including Justice Sector, security organs and other decision-makers. The presence today of those who are representing different institutions is highly appreciated, said Dr. Gasanabo CNLG and Aegis Trust, together with a team of international partners such as the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation; King’s College London; and the NIOD Institute for Genocide and Holocaust Studies in The Netherlands, embarked on a major project to organize, catalogue and digitize the Archive. CNLG and its partners have been planning this project for the past 18 months and have carried out a feasibility study and a range of investigations that have secured funding for the first phase of the project. A further two phases are planned for the next five years (2015 – 2020). Phase one, which began on 1 January 2015, will be an intensive planning and testing period.  The Archive documents will be organized, catalogued, and the scanning will begin.  An advanced, modern technical facility for scanning, preserving and delivering the digital archive will be established in Kigali, and staff will be trained in all aspects of its operation.  The Gacaca Archive Project is vitally important for Rwanda, not just to preserve and make accessible this unique record of a unique process, but also in the establishment of a Centre of excellence in digital delivery. This will be one of the largest non-commercial digital archiving projects ever undertaken, and is capacity-building on a large scale.  If this project succeeds, Rwanda will become world leaders in this area. This will contribute significantly to Rwanda’s ambitions to become a modern knowledge economy; it will deliver a cadre of technically trained personnel, create jobs, and build expertise. This project will have considerable impact on a whole range of stakeholders within and outside Rwanda.  However, in order to maximize that impact, and to evaluate the significant changes that the project will effect, a formal process of evaluation and impact assessment needs to be put in place by the team as part of the project plan.  It is in order to inform this process that we are holding the Stakeholder Workshop.  We wanted to explore at this event several key aspects of the project’s potential impact: what effect will the digital availability of the Gacaca Archive have on current user groups? What new users will emerge when it is available? What impact will the technical expertise developed by the project have on the Rwandan knowledge economy? And how might we measure impact within the different stakeholder groups?    
Jan 28

Concept developed to build a state of the art Gacaca Archive

The proposed design of the Centre for Humanity at the Kigali Genocide Memorial
  A plan for the construction of a world-class archive to house the Gacaca Courts collection of documents and audio-visual files, and the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, has been developed. The concept has been put together by the team working to build a physical and digital archive that will make the genocide against the Tutsi one of the most comprehensively documented and most easily researchable genocides of all time. The archive is set to be built on the grounds of the Kigali Genocide Memorial. The construction of the archive will be managed by a consortium of architects led by John McAslan & Partners, together with MASS Design Group and Landmark Studios. Since the Gacaca Courts completed their work in June 2012, significant efforts have been undertaken to preserve and organise the courts’ estimated 60 million pages of documents and 8,000 audio-visual files. A team, including the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, Aegis Trust, and international organisations such as King’s College London, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the USC Shoah Foundation, has been working to find a sustainable solution to ensure the archives are preserved for generations to come. The construction of an archive to house the court’s collection is the central part of this solution. The upper canopy of the archive will feature an exhibition hall and interfaith space. In the mid canopy section, there will be an auditorium and an educational centre that will host classroom and workshop spaces. The Gacaca Archives, Genocide Archive of Rwanda and Library will be located on the lower canopy levels. These spaces will be climate controlled to ensure the proper preservation the genocide archive material. The archives will be organised in a way that allows them to be a useful tool for research and learning about the genocide against the Tutsi. In addition to being one of the world’s largest genocide archives, the collection will aim to inspire and support those standing up for human rights around the world. Through the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, it will collect witness testimony, document mass atrocities and conduct research on mass atrocity prevention. It will also work with peace builders so their communities can be more resilient to division. The Genocide Archive of Rwanda was first built to store and preserve the information that was collected during the creation of memorial exhibitions. Since then, it has become the country’s leading physical and digital archive of primary source material about the genocide. Bringing together the Gacaca Archives with the Genocide Archive of Rwanda will significantly expand its capacity, making it the world’s leading source of information about the Genocide against the Tutsi.  
Jan 26

Gacaca Archive stakeholders meet to define project impact goals

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22 January 2015 A wide range of stakeholders met in Kigali to discuss the impact they want the Gacaca Archives to have, in Rwanda and internationally. The meeting was hosted by the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) and was attended by 30 individuals from 19 different government, non-government and higher learning institutions. The workshop was titled, ‘Enabling the digital society: An impact plan for the Gacaca Archive Project’ and was facilitated by Professor Marilyn Deegan from King’s College London. The objective was to gather inputs from those working on the project as well as from key stakeholders such as genocide survivor organisations. Maximising the considerable impact the archive will have, and being able to evaluate it, requires a formal process of evaluation and impact assessment. The workshop was a key step in developing this assessment mechanism. To define the desired impact of the archive project, participants were divided into groups and asked to discuss the following questions and give their feedback: What are the most common problems you face when dealing with Gacaca related information? What difference do you want the Gacaca archive project to make? From these questions, stakeholders presented a wide range of views on accessibility, use of the archives, incorporating them into curriculums, security and privacy. The discussions helped to define what effect the digital availability of the Gacaca Archive will have, what new users will emerge when it is available, what impact the technical expertise developed by the project will have on the Rwandan knowledge economy and how overall impact might be measured. Speaking on the outcomes of the workshop, Professor Deegan, an expert in digital humanities and an experienced manager of large-scale digital projects, said: “The stakeholder workshop was a highly focused and successful event. The participants came from a broad range of organisations concerned with the Gacaca Archive, and shared their experience and expertise generously. Their input was greatly valued, and will help the project team shape the next phases of the project.” Since the Gacaca Courts completed their work in June 2012, significant efforts have been undertaken to preserve and organise the courts’ estimated 60 million pages of documents and 8,000 audio-visual files. In December 2014, a team, including CNLG, Aegis Trust, and international organisations such as King’s College London, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the USC Shoah Foundation, announced the plan for a sustainable solution to ensure the archives are preserved for generations to come.
Dec 11

Plan announced to preserve, digitise and make accessible the Gacaca Archives

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The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) in partnership with Aegis Trust today unveiled the plan to preserve, digitise and make accessible the documents and audio visual files created through the Gacaca Courts. The plan is the outcome of 18 months of research and a feasibility study, which assessed the current state of the Gacaca collection and how best to preserve it. Since the Gacaca Courts completed their work in June 2012, significant efforts have been undertaken to preserve and organise the courts’ estimated 60 million pages of documents and 8,000 audio-visual files. A team, including CNLG, Aegis Trust, and international organisations such as King’s College London, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the USC Shoah Foundation, has been working to find a sustainable solution to ensure the archives are preserved for generations to come. The plan to build a world class Gacaca Archive is part of a larger endeavour to make the Genocide against the Tutsi one of the most comprehensively documented and most easily researchable genocides of all time. “Gacaca helped to lay the foundation for unity and reconciliation in Rwanda. By drawing on our culture and tradition, the courts helped bring to light the truth of what happened in 1994 and provided justice for victims and survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi. Preserving the results of the courts’ work and ensuring people can access them for research and learning is a priority for the Government of Rwanda,” Joseph Habineza, Minister of Sports and Culture, said. Speaking about the plan to build the Gacaca Archives, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, said: “The Gacaca records contain testimonies given by victims, witnesses and perpetrators as well as the investigations led by the courts and the decisions taken. This invaluable information helps us to learn about the preparations for the genocide, its implementation and consequences. It also contributes to our understanding of how Gacaca helped restore justice in communities traumatised by the horrific crimes committed in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.” The plan from CNLG, in partnership with Aegis Trust, will address both the short-term and long-term needs for the preservation of the Gacaca collection. For the long-term, this includes the relocation of the physical archive and the design of a system to digitise the entire Gacaca Archive. In the short-term, the plan will address the deterioration of documents and the risk of them being lost or damaged. It will also improve the process for identifying and accessing trial and case related documents for the entire judiciary system. The plan will also include training and capacity building. The Gacaca Archives will be a tool for research, learning and preventing mass atrocity. Following the completion of the expansion of the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the memorial will host the physical archive and form part of the Global Centre for Humanity, a centre for excellence in genocide research. As part of the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, the Gacaca Archive will benefit from a modern suite of archival tools, large-scale digitisation and delivery capacity that will allow it to become the world’s largest collection of information on transitional justice.