Goals of documenting enforced disappearances


#1

Some organisations document disappearances to support advocacy and lobbying efforts (to the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, for example). Others document disappearances to support identification efforts and/or criminal prosecution of perpetrators. In this discussion thread, participants will share their knowledge of the goals of documenting disappearances, and how their goals impact the way they carry out their documentation.


Community Discussion on Documenting the Disappeared: November 2017
#2

We had a great conference call today in which @jdimayo presented on goals of documenting enforced disappearances, and @ozlem shared important considerations and best practices on documenting disappearances from the experience of Hafiza Merkezi. Please watch the presentation below and add your questions and comments below!

@indira put together this summary of the presentations in Spanish (Thank you Indira!):

_En esta llamada Justine Di Mayo, Cofundadora de Act for the Disappeared nos comparte los objetivos que ella ha identificado en la documentación de desapariciones forzadas. _

_1.- Documentar para denunciar y exigir a las autoridades un alto a las desapariciones forzadas _
_Denunciar a un nivel nacional e internacional _

_√Ėzlem Kaya de Hafiza Merkezi _
Para tener un registro de las personas que est√°n desaparicionendo
Para generar memoria: restaurar las historias de las personas desaparecidas
Para la persecución y la rendición de cuentas, encontrar a lxs responsables
Encontrar a quienes est√°n desaparecidxs
Denunciar y exigir a las autoridades
Para analizar varios aspectos en la problemática, por ejemplo el género

_En el contexto de Turquía las desapariciones se registraron fuertemente en 1990. _

Definiendo el crimen: Ozlem nos comparte definiciones de Desaparición Forzada
_¬ŅQuienes son las v√≠ctimas de la desaparici√≥n forzada? V√≠ctimas directas e indirectas. _

_Hay un organización que define hasta donde termina su labor, una vez que se encuentra dónde está la persona. _
Es importnte para una organización el definir el crimen y ser coherente con esa definición

¬ŅCu√°les son las fuentes que puedes usar para documentar?
* Trabajos previos de organismos nacionales e internacionales
* Documentos legales: archivo de investigación, veredictos de organismos nacionales e internacionales
* Monitoreo de medios
Es importante organizar la base de datos donde vas a estar recopilando la información de fuentes de internet por ejemplo, para no perderte en toda la información que puedes encontrar en línea
_* Testimonios de sobrevivientes: de los familiares o conocidxs _

Recomendaciones para hacer entrevistas enfocadas en la recolección de testimonios:
_ Definir la metodología_
_ Entrenar a lxs que har√°n las entrevistas _
_ Ser transparentes en cuanto al contexto _
_ Llevar formatos y hablar sobre consentimiento informado, el reto es que podría ser que sólo te permitan usar la información de manera confidencial. Pero el consentimiento de estas personas debe respetarse. _
_ _
¬ŅC√≥mo puedes contactar a lxs sobrevivientes? ¬ŅC√≥mo pueden ellxs encontrarte?
* Coordinar entre instituciones
* Puedes darles las actividades que realizas

Formatos en los que puedes recolectar datos
* En los audios y videos de las entrevistas
* Transcripciones de las entrevistas (tener transcripciones puede ser muy √ļtil para consultar cuando ha pasado tiempo, por eso las transcripciones son una actividad muy importante, incluso pueden ser √ļtiles ya que permiten traducirse)
_Contenido en fotografías o video _
Las copias físicos o digitales de los archivos, algunos pueen encontrarse en línea
Las noticias publicads en físico o en medios digitales
_ _
" los contenidos por ejemplo los audios o videos usan mucho espacio"
‚Äúdeben estar relacionados entre ellos, siguiendo las categor√≠as de an√°lisis que estamos usando‚ÄĚ
‚Äúls organizaciones deben de identificar cuales son sus estrategias de verificaci√≥n y ser claras y transparentes en eso‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúDefinimos esta estrategia al inicio de nuestro trabajo‚ÄĚ
_‚Äúdefinir la estrategia n cuanto a datos contradictorios‚ÄĚ _
‚Äúser transparentes y coherentes en tus decisiones, por ejemplo en turquia ha sido un gran reto por el contexto de impunidad, en especial por las que ha sido perpetradas por agentes del estado‚ÄĚ
‚Äúpor eso estamos buscando forzar a los mecanismos legales pra exigir rendicion de cuentas y que se encuentre a lxs culpables‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAlgunas bases de datos te permiten incluir diferentes tipos de datos‚ÄĚ
_La información de desapariciones forzada puede recolectarse en un archivo físico o digital, nosotrxs aun tenemos un archivo en físico. _
_Hay un gran reto de seguridad en archivos físicos ya que no hay manera de hacer respaldos. Es por lo que hacemos copias digitales de todo lo físico. _
_Es clave ver dónde vas a ubica tus archivos en físico. Dependindo del contexto tu oficina incluso podría ser un espacio de alto riesgo. _
_Debes tener una copia digital de tus archivos físicos y tener respaldos. _
Nosotrxs estamos usando Uwazi, que pueden preguntar al equipo de Huridocs

Esto va ligado con nuestra meta de hacer memoria. Queremos exigir respuesta entonor a lxs responsables y por eso lo hacemos también!


The process of collecting and producing documentation on disappearances
#3

As @baset mentioned in his comment within another thread:

international mechanisms needs a long time and succeed [only] in specific countries.

The process of achieving any redress from these international or regional mechanisms can be incredibly frustrating, and painful (as @baset explains).

I would be really interested to learn about successful examples of advocacy efforts on the issue of enforced disappearances, and how the documentation supported this achievement. Thanks!


#4

These are the main goals of the Human Rights Program of Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico City) for documenting clandestine graves in Mexico:

  1. Create a database about reports of clandestine graves in Mexico, based on press reports. We started our research in order to have a systematized database about findings of clandestine graves that have been reported by the local and national press in Mexico, since 2007. We identified that this reports were frequent in most of the states, but there wasn¬īt an effort to collect all of them and give estimations about the magnitude of the problem in the whole country. We now have more than 3,000 press reports about the phenomenon in Mexico. In June of 2017 we published a report called Violencia y terror. Hallazgos sobre fosas clandestinas en M√©xico (http://www.ibero.mx//files/informe_fosas_clandestinas_2017.pdf) where we presented our estimations about the magnitude of the problem taking into account the figures by the media and comparing them with official figures.

  2. Compare our database with official figures from local and federal institutions that have reports about clandestine graves. In addition to our press database, we have gathered official information about clandestine graves thanks to the efforts of another NGO in Mexico (Comisi√≥n Mexicana de Defensa y Promoci√≥n de Derechos Humanos). They obtained these records with freedom of information requests formulated to the 32 state prosecutors ‚Äėoffices in Mexico, the Federal Attorney General‚Äôs Office and the Ministry of Defense. We analyzed this info and compared it with our figures based on the press reports. These results can also be consulted in Violencia y terror. This was an important process because we have reports about clandestine graves from different sources of information. We have to take into account that the Federal Government has not assumed the responsibility of creating a National Map of clandestine graves and a centralized database confirming cases from different sources of information, even though that this has been a recommendation from organisms such as the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts.

  3. Create a statistical model that predicts municipalities in Mexico with high probabilities of having clandestine graves that have not been observed by the press or by the government. We created a statistical model along with Data Cívica (Mexican NGO) and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group that identifies municipalities in the country with high probabilities of having clandestine graves (https://hrdag.org/2017/11/23/new-clandestine-graves-mexico/). These locations have not been observed by the media or the government institutions (based on our records), so we believe that these are good places to start search and exhumation programs. In other words, we want to use this model as an advocacy tool in order to create better public programs regarding missing persons in Mexico.


#5

I joined the online discussion just now. My name is Seraphina. Very interesting in listing the all the processing online introduction. i regret to loss the chance. I am researching this subject for the ph,D paper on the perspective of Archive movement so far. Thanks


#6

Thank you for sharing this information about this project predicting the locations of clandestine graves. I would imagine that a successful collaboration could come out of this kind of rigorous data analysis project combined with the work of organisations that collect and document stories of disappearances. Have you been able to partner with organisations in this way? What have you learned from these partnerships?

Also, do you think that this data analysis model could be adapted to other countries?

Thanks, Jorge! I really look forward to learning more about your work during your presentation on Wednesday!
Kristin


#7

Hi Kristin!

Yes! The goal is to be in contact with these organizations during the next months. We want to show them how we plan to use this model, how we think it can help, and also the limitations that it has.

Also, we are going to keep working with the model in order to make our predictions even more precise. What a i mean with this is that we think we can pinpoint the exact location within a municipality where we are more likely to have clandestine graves. In order to achive this, we need to integrate more qualitative information that a lot of these groups have. So, as you mentioned, important collaborations can come out from the project.

i do think that the model can be adapted to other countries. The challenge lies on how much data you can collect in order to make the model better.


#8

Thank you Jorge for sharing this information about your project predicting the locations of clandestine graves. It is very interesting. I would like to know more about the type of data you need to use your model and how you integrate the different patterns of kidnapping and clandestine burials (which may vary depending on the group responsible).
Thanks


#9

Hi Justine,

Our model works with the registers we have of clandestine graves that have been observed by the press and by government institutions. Then, we integrate geographic, sociodemographic and violence variables for all the municipalities in Mexico for a given year.

These are examples of the variables we include for each municipality:
‚ÄĘ Population;
‚ÄĘ Real income;
‚ÄĘ Homicide rates;
‚ÄĘ Number of missing persons;
‚ÄĘ Average years of schooling;
‚ÄĘ Percentage of students in the municipality with Spanish insufficiency at primary schools;
‚ÄĘ Confiscation of heroin in the municipality;
‚ÄĘ If the municipality is near a border or not.

What is great about the model is that we can include as much data as we can. As you can see, they don¬īt have to be variables of violence exclusively. The challenge is to systematize this data for all the 2,458 municipalities in Mexico.

Regarding your second question, we do not differentiate the patterns or perpetrators for this model (see the scope and interpretation section of our first results: https://hrdag.org/mx-fosas.html). Those would have to be models and studies that will come later.

Best,
Jorge


#10

Many thanks Jorge for your answer. Very helpful.


#11

In our fourth and last live presentation in our series on documenting disappearances, Celina Flores (@celina) Archive Coordinator for Memoria Abierta in Argentina, presented on her organisation’s archiving initiatives. Please watch this informative presentation and ask your questions below!


#12

Celina, thank you very much for your presentation. I could just have the time to listen to it all.
While giving background information you used the term ‚ÄėArgentinian terrorist state‚Äô. This is such a highly politicized term, These definitions and political meanings attached to them can be controversial among different organisations. I do believe that definitions and namings are quiet important for any kind of documentation work, as it defines both the methodology of collecting information and the strategy to disseminate it.
As an initiative bringing together different organisations, what is your strategy against these kind of controversial topics, i.e. definitions of state violence?