Posts Tagged judicial
Renowned archivist, Trudy Huskamp Peterson, was invited to the Wilson Center earlier this year to speak about her last publication with the center, Final Acts. As the Chair of the ICA Human Rights Working Group, former President of the Society of American Archivist, and recipient of the French Order of Arts & Letters Award, Trudy is the authority on archival issues in human rights.
The Wilson Center ON DEMAND posted a video of Trudy’s appearance. In it Trudy filters her expansive experiences in constructing, examining and improving archives all over the world with post-conflict trauma and regime change, largely related to cases in Egypt where destruction of archives has definitely occurred. Trudy readily admits she is not so optimistic about reconciliation but believes in transformation and institutional reform. She shares her views on the involvement and sometimes ostensible role of state archives in protecting violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Trudy also discusses the different bodies of justice and courts which are currently supported by the work of archives worldwide.
The decisions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights are now available on-line through an advanced tool. At the NGO Forum just before the ongoing session of the Commission, the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and HURIDOCS launched a new online database of jurisprudence of the African Human Rights System, called Caselaw Analyser.
The Caselaw Analyser provides:
- African human rights decisions in English and French available free of charge;
- Automated high quality pertinent analysis;
- Easy browsing of inter-related decisions;
- Quick access of primary case law for each violation;
- Automatic calculation of jurisprudential value of each decision based on frequency of citation;
- Comprehensive key word search;
- Hyperlinks to authorities (laws and cases cited);
- Easy annotation and sharing of commentary on interesting decisions.
This report is based on the deliberations of the United States Institute of Peace Working Group that focused on the role of memorialization in promoting, jeopardizing, or impairing social reconstruction or reconciliation emerging from violent conflict. Judy Barsalou and Victoria Baxter discuss the effect of memorials on victims and national identity by providing examples of efforts around the world. Museum and libraries are prevalent examples as centers for memory and memorialization. Also, brief mention of international criminal tribunals’ retention/disposition practices reveal the need to take more of a victim-based approach in handling records of a judicial nature.
Last week, when news erupted of the Iraqi documents WikiLeaks, I posted the news as I heard it from The New York Times. It’s come to my attention that this was the perfect opportunity to share a paper by former Acting Archivist of the United States, Trudy Huskamp Peterson. Peterson has suggested that the scavengers of wartime documents are usually opposing military forces, not the press and not the affected citizens. As an experienced archivist, she outlines in her discussion the laws of war as they apply to records seizure. This paper serves as a good counterpoint to compare and expand further on the topic of the WikiLeaks from an archival perspective.
The New York Times released an article yesterday on a recent WikiLeaks acquisition. The cache of some 300,000 documents regarding secret field reports on the war in Iraq does not shed any new light, the Times says, but “they offer insight, texture and context from the people actually fighting the war”.
The release by the independent organization, WikiLeaks, faces serious opposition. WikiLeaks has failed more than once to redact sensitive information from the records it makes available. The Times discusses the serious repercussions such leaks of information have on the security and success of military operations overseas. The Pentagon has swiftly released a formal response deploring the disclosure.
This action of WikiLeaks flies in the face of international transitional justice practice and principles to take into account the rights and interests of individuals concerned-individuals such as victims, witnesses and informants. There are other legal requirements (governed by national laws) in place to protect individuals appearing in records. Closure periods, for example. Redaction of names and closure periods are just some of the usual practices. They are not employed by WikiLeaks but, as any organization that discloses information, it seems that it would help their case to do so.
The New York Times has released some of the secret dispatches with redaction in their War Logs section.
This pdf document (released in March 2008 and available in both English and French) outlines the work of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda‘s Court Management Section (ICTR and CMS, respectively). It addresses the completion strategy of this subsidiary body of the Security Council, scheduled for 2011. The ICTR’s Court Management Section contains the Judicial Records and Archives Unit (JRAU). This document reveals a straightforward account of the work of that unit including issues concerning public access. It does not however discuss the unit’s role in advocacy or working with local groups to raise awareness. This document pertains strictly to the work of the UN body in the context of a legal framework for which the ICTR exists.