In response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the United Nations Security Council established the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (UN-ICTR). The Security Council's mandate instructed the court to prosecute those accused of responsibility for the genocide and other serious violations of international law within a set area of the African Great Lakes region during a defined time period.
In 2008, a team of information scientists, legal experts, and cinematographers set out to record the voices of those who were part of the UN-ICTR legal process. The team conducted 49 video interviews with the judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, interpreters, court administrators, investigators, and many others associated with the ICTR on location in Arusha, Tanzania and in Rwanda.
These ICTR personnel hold unique insight into the difficulties of attempting to achieve justice and reconciliation in response to the horrors of genocide. Reflections touch on many issues including transitional justice, violence against women, court administration, and treatment of witnesses. Diverging from traditional oral history, those interviewed speak toward the future as well as to explicate the past. In providing these reflections, individuals were asked not to share confidential information.
It is the Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal's goal to release the entire collection of video interviews for widespread public access, particularly for the Rwandan people and for the international justice community. This goal of access requires careful attention to technological infrastructure as well as to language. In terms of technology, the video interview materials are available in a compressed video format as well as audio only to support access in areas with lower bandwidth capability. In terms of language, the video interviews were conducted in the official languages of the UN-ICTR: English and French. As of this writing, Kinyarwanda and English are the national languages of Rwanda, though French is still spoken widely in some areas and some Rwandans speak primarily Kinyarwanda. Eventually, we hope to provide access to the materials (including this website) in all three languages.
While the video interviews in this collection were conducted in 2008, the socio-political context surrounding the UN-ICTR and the Tribunal's work continues to unfold. The Voices from the Rwanda Tribunal - containing the experiences and reflections of Tribunal personnel - is one primary source for information related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide and international systems of justice.
Other primary source materials outside this collection may also be of interest. Official court transcripts and other documents from the UN-ICTR can be found on the UN-ICTR website. Testimonies with Rwandan genocide survivors have or are beginning to be collected by organizations such as the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Voices of Rwanda, and the Shoah Foundation.
How You Can Help
If you would like to see how you can help us with this ongoing process, please visit our support page.
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This project is an undertaking of the Value Sensitive Design Research Lab at the University of Washington's Information School.