Development of Pilot Virtual Tribunal Collections
In February 2010 the WCSC and the Hoover Library and Archive signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Director of Court Administration of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECC, or Khmer Rouge Tribunal). This Agreement provides for a partnership to implement the Virtual Tribunal at the ECCC and to assist the Court with related IT needs. The Virtual Tribunal program at the ECCC will assist the court in providing a lasting legacy for the people of Cambodia that will extend beyond the court’s projected termination date of 2013. Working together with the Court, schools, universities, and NGOs, the Virtual Tribunal will be made available to Cambodians at learning centers in schools as well as in provincial information centers and memorials to Khmer Rouge victims.
As a pilot program, we anticipate the Virtual Tribunal’s ECCC collection will be able to serve diverse user groups through menu “modules” aimed at differentiating between the educational and professional needs of Cambodian high school and university students, foreign scholars, civil society organizations, and legal practitioners in domestic or international courts.
The Virtual Tribunal project for the ECCC will be implemented at the court so that Cambodian IT personnel from the court and from judicial and archival institutions can benefit from working with software engineers from Berkeley and Stanford. In this manner we will also be able to work closely with educational institutions to design and implement appropriate modules and to develop learning centers. Cambodian users of the Virtual Tribunal will also be able directly to submit narrative accounts of their experiences in the Khmer Rouge period for inclusion in the Virtual Tribunal’s database.
Other collaborative IT projects are underway that will also provide a foundation for the Virtual Tribunal. Working with the Cambodian iReach project, we aim to help bring distance learning and self-directed education, together with the Virtual Tribunal resource, to rural Cambodian villages. Also of potentially transformational impact is a project whereby the Berkeley-Stanford Virtual Tribunal team will develop software that will enable Khmer language texts to be searchable through optical recognition (OCR). While this will clearly benefit the ECCC and enhance the educational value of the Virtual Tribunal, it will also provide a major and lasting resource for information access, education, and IT development in Cambodia as a whole.
Now reaching the termination of proceedings, the Special Court for Sierra Leone has become focused on legacy projects. As such, the court administration and the WCSC are currently discussing possible uses for VT technology in Sierra Leone, incorporating the complete collection of four SCSL trials. As in Cambodia, we anticipate the Virtual Tribunal’s Sierra Leone collection could be made available to diverse user groups through menu “modules” aimed at differentiating between the educational and professional needs of different users, both in Sierra Leone and abroad. One possible project in Freetown involves establishing Virtual Tribunal research and learning stations at the current court facility, where an SCSL museum is planned for the future.