SJAC collects and preserves documentation of violations of human rights, humanitarian, and international criminal law in Syria in order to facilitate transitional justice and accountability efforts. Unlike in previous conflicts, information and communication technologies — especially mobile devices — have enabled widespread documentation of violations, such that lack of documentation is not a primary challenge. Rather, key challenges are capturing and preserving the massive quantities of data, along with ensuring that documentation is comprehensive, credible, and of high enough quality to be useful in future transitional justice processes.
Documentation is collected from trusted individuals and organizations from all over Syria. SJAC also captures documentation from displaced persons, as well as documentation published publicly on the internet. SJAC gathers documentation of all violations — regardless of the affiliation of victims or perpetrators. To promote credible and high-quality documentation, SJAC also provides guidance and expertise to documenters and other actors working toward similar goals.
Once collected, SJAC stores documentation in a secure database, which will be made available once justice and accountability mechanisms are established. The security of victims and those who report violations is paramount. SJAC therefore has strict security and data-sharing protocols designed to ensure that sensitive personal information is protected, and only shared with accountability institutions under specific circumstances, each requiring a case-by-case determination.
Additionally, the preservation of this documentation will facilitate the telling of victims’ stories — in accountability and memorialization processes, but also to be remembered by all Syrians, historians, and the broader global community.