Members of Parliament have said the government needs to avail funds for the proper conservation of archives of the Gacaca jurisdictions, a traditional judicial system under which at least two million cases where heard.
The archives, in nearly 20,000 boxes, are currently housed in a makeshift facility at the Rwanda National Police headquarters in Kacyiru.
The concern was raised during a tour of the facility by members of the parliamentary standing committee on Unity, Human Rights and Fight against Genocide last Friday. It was led by the committee chairperson, MP François Byabarumwanzi.
The archives include DVDs, audio tapes, floppy disks and paperwork that the semi-traditional courts accumulated during their 10 years of operation.
“Authorities have endeavoured to conserve this important documentation but there is still more to be done. There is need for a more permanent place and proper storage facilities.
“We shall bring the issue to the attention of those concerned to ensure funds are obtained to solve the issue,” Byabarumwanzi said.
Among the issues brought to the attention of the lawmakers, is the inaccessibility of the documents and the fact that a lot of information remains on paper. The custodians say that given the required funds, they would want to digitalise the information.
In an interview with The New Times, Dr Jean Damscène Gasanabo, the director of documentation and research on Genocide at the National Commission for the fight against Genocide (CNLG), said they have started a pilot phase to digitalise the documents, but the process is expensive.
“We realised that buying the specific stalls and scanning documents alone can cost over Rwf4 billion. So you can imagine how much is needed if you were to include a building and hiring of specialised personnel in conservation, among other costs,” Gasanabo said.
Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the Executive Secretary of CNLG, the institution charged with preservation of Genocide archives, told the MPs that they are working closely with different institutions with known expertise in document preservation.
He said that most of these institutions are from Netherlands, and Switzerland, and a few from Rwanda.
“We initiated negotiations with different institutions but having the archives properly preserved is a very expensive venture. We need a budget for the exercise,” Mucyo said.
He added that stuff also risk contracting diseases as a result of the fibre from the pile of paper.
“Some of us have already started contracting respiratory-related ailments because of the paper. There is need to improve the working conditions to insulate us from such,” Beata Wibabara, one of the 16 people working at the facility, told the lawmakers.