“Capturing a Crisis: What lessons can we learn from the “overdocumentation” of the Rohingya crisis? – Eva Buzo

“Capturing a Crisis: What lessons can we learn from the “overdocumentation” of the Rohingya crisis? – Eva Buzo

“Capturing a Crisis: What lessons can we learn from the “overdocumentation” of the Rohingya crisis? – Eva Buzo

On 20 May 2020 our Executive Director, Eva Buzo, joined Mark Kersten and Justice In Conflict for a guest blog post, “Capturing a Crisis: What lessons can we learn from the “overdocumentation” of the Rohingya crisis?”. Eva lived in Cox’s Bazar between November 2017 and September 2019.

In this article, Eva explains that the “overdocumentation” issue in responding to the Rohingya conflict is not simply too much documentation of human rights abuses, but rather an uncoordinated effort that has led to, “significant duplication on one hand, and large gaps in the narrative of what happened in northern Rakhine state on the other”. Eva reflects on her experiences working in the camps to clearly outline three main problems that have contributed to the “overdocumentation process”: A small pool of “fixers” who operate within the same communities, overreliance on humanitarian services as their “entry-points”, and a lack of collaboration with Rohingya Civil Society groups. Eva highlights how individuals and organisations coming to Cox’s Bazar to document human rights abuses tend to pull from the same saturated pool of resources that not only prove inefficient, but also exhaust victims in documentation efforts.  

Eva offers a way forward that not only overcomes the scarcity of resources and overwhelming amount of human rights abuses that need documenting, but one that ultimately puts victims first. She suggests an overarching coordination structure that would reduce overconcentration of documentation efforts and is, “the key to ensuring those pursuing accountability on behalf of victims have access to the most relevant, probative, reliable and complete evidentiary matrixes as possible”. We, at VAI, work to ensure that victims’ best interests are at the forefront of any international justice effort. A coordinated documentation structure would ensure the best outcome for victims’ well-being as well as maximise their chances of achieving justice in court.  

Read our Executive Director’s article here