Among the 35 items of “exceptional documentary heritage” added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register during a recent meeting of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) in Bridgetown, Barbados, the following two are of note to this community:

Archives of Terror (Paraguay)

The Archives of Terror are official documents of police repression during the 35 years of Alfredo Stroessner’s dictatorship, and provide crucial supporting evidence of Operation Condor, part of a campaign of political repressions involving assassinations and intelligence operations launched in 1975 by the right-wing dictators of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The archives were used in the case against against General Pinochet before Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón.

More about the Paraguay archives on BBC

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Archives (Cambodia)

Photographs and documents from the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the former S-21 prison and interrogation centre where more than 15,000 people are believed to have been held and only a handful survived. The archive contains photographs of over 5,000 of these prisoners, as well as “confessions”, many extracted under torture, and other biographical records of prisoners, prison guards and officials in the security apparatus.

The head of Tuol Sleng, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, is currently being tried in Phnom Penh in an experimental mixed UN/Cambodian court. On a related note, judges in the Duch trial have prohibited the use of footage by the prosecution. The footage in question was purportedly shot by Vietnamese forces in 1979 and recently donated to the tribunal; prosecutors have said they believe the footage, showing infants and children in poor health being removed from the prison compound, is necessary to demonstrate the inhumane conditions at Tuol Sleng. Defense attorneys claim the footage is unreliable; the judges have said it adds little to what is already known, and would require additional resources to authenticate.

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