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.

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