Future of Gacaca
This archive is of unparalleled significance, both to Rwanda and the world, as a record of the process of justice and reconciliation. However, a feasibility study carried out by Aegis Trust and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies into genocide-related materials in Rwanda’s archives has shown that the Gacaca Archive is deteriorating rapidly and that that there is a significant risk of information getting lost and/or documents becoming unusable in the future. The use of the archive is also hampered by the lack of access tools and documentation on the context in which the documents were created.
An international team of Aegis Trust, NIOD, the CNLG, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, and King’s College London propose a major project to stabilise and rehouse the archive, to digitise it and make it available worldwide, and to provide tools and interpretive materials so that it can be used in many different contexts. This is a unique record of a unique process: it must not be lost or hidden away. This is a significant undertaking, which will require considerable funding. The benefits however will be enormous. Not only will this incredible resource be preserved and made accessible for the very long term, but in the process expertise will be transferred from the international partners to Rwanda, creating a cadre of trained personnel who will be able to transfer these skills to other contexts and other people. Furthermore, a modern suite of archival tools and a large-scale digitisation, digital archiving and digital delivery infrastructure will need to be established: once the Gacaca Archive has been completed this infrastructure can become a commercial operation and a centre of excellence, not only for Rwanda but for other countries in the region.
Work so far
The Gacaca Archive is part of an even larger endeavour: to make the 1994 genocide one of the most comprehensively documented – and most easily researchable – genocides of all time. To that end, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial (KGM) in Rwanda on the 10th December 2010, a documentation facility was opened to collect, store, manage and make available a wide range of archive materials relating to the genocide. Between August 2013 and February 2014, NIOD and Aegis Trust carried out a feasibility study to assess all the archive holdings relating to genocide in the country and made specific recommendations relating to the Gacaca Archive, probably the largest collection of archive holdings on the genocide and in urgent need of attention.
Based on this study, a grant was awarded by the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) for a planning process during the course of 2014, to be undertaken by the Consortium members. A detailed project plan has now been developed, allowing us to assess the needs of the Gacaca materials, the most appropriate methods, technologies and materials for their preservation, scanning and access, and the likely costs of the whole project. Gacaca Archive has been completed this infrastructure can become a commercial operation and a centre of excellence, not only for Rwanda but for other countries in the region.
Building on the solid foundations of investigative work already carried out by CNLG and Aegis Trust, the Consortium proposes a three-phase project, lasting around five and a half years, to complete the stabilisation, rehousing and digitisation of the Gacaca Archive, and to make it widely available with suitable access and manipulation tools for use by the widest possible audience. By 2020 we expect to have all 60 million pages archived and organised in physical form, and digitised and made available in digital form, with sophisticated tools and explanatory materials to make the digital archive accessible worldwide. We will also have a professional, commercial digitisation and delivery centre available for other projects and services. The project will be managed and evaluated continuously to the highest professional standards; all the partners in the Consortium are experienced in the management of large-scale, high profile and high-risk projects. The three phases of the project will be:
- Phase one: January 2015-July 2015
- Phase two: August 2015-July 2017
- Phase three:August 2017-July 2020.
The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide and Aegis Trust are working with the following international experts to ensure the Gacaca Archives project is completed to the highest global standards and helps to build the skills of local archiving staff.