3.5.2 Case summaries
Case summaries are a different kind of list and are used for a different purpose. Rather than a simple list of items, case summaries put together all of the facts for each case in an attractive, readable, and standard format. Having the information organized in a standard format allows readers to absorb the relevant details of many cases rapidly. A case summary usually presents a narrative description of the case so that the reader can get a deeper sense of what happened. However, the case summary also presents the elements of the case that were coded, especially the violations which were counted. In October, 1993, the NonGovernmental Human Rights Commission of El Salvador (CDHES-NG) presented summaries of over 110 of their bestdocumented and most thoroughly researched cases (more than 600 pages of material) to the United Nations' Truth Commission for El Salvador.
In Example 220.127.116.11 below, there is a hypothetical case rendered in the form used by the CDHES for the Salvadoran Truth Commission. This example is an extended form of the case suggested in the hypothetical database in Section 18.104.22.168, above. Additional detail has been added to Example 22.214.171.124 to show the flexibility of this report format . There is no reason that reports in this form cannot be generated directly from a database that contains this information. Although this can be technically difficult report to produce, it can be correspondingly valuable. When many cases are presented together in a format like this one, it can be much easier to see what are the unique elements in each case.
Example 126.96.36.199: Hypothetical case summary form
Case summary form (hypothetical) Date of deposition: 06/07/94 Case No.: 243 Date of event: 30/06/1994+ File No.: 14/89C VICTIMS: 1. JONES, George 2. JONES, Lisa AGE: 1. 35 SEX: 1. M OCCUPATION: 1. House builder 2. 32 2. F 2. Secretary TYPES OF VIOLATIONS: 1. Threats and Intimidation (National Guard) 30/06/1994 Guardsmen said that they would kill him if he continued his complaint against them. 1. Arbitrary Detention (National Guard) 04/07/1994 no arrest warrant 1. Torture (Federal Police) 04/07/1994 1. Arbitrary Execution (Federal Police) 04/07/1994 2. Arbitrary Detention (National Guard) 04/07/1994 no arrest warrant 2. Torture (Federal Police) 04/07/1994 2. Arbitrary Execution (Federal Police) 04/07/1994 TORTURE: 1. Severe Beating (Federal Police) 04/07/1994 1. Electric Shocks (Federal Police) 04/07/1994 given in the ear ("telephone") 2. Severe Beating (Federal Police) 04/07/1994 RESPONSIBLES INDIVIDUAL: Col. Collins, Ralph E. (Commander, National Guard) Lt. Col. Schmidt, G.R. (Executive Officer, National Guard) North, John (Director, Federal Police) Jackson, J.L. (Associate Director, Federal Police) Gates, Agent (Federal Police) ORGANIZATIONAL: National Guard Federal Police LOCATION OF THE ACTS: In the victims' house, 123 First St., Elmville COMMENTARY ON THE ACT: On the afternoon of June 30, 1994, three unidentified National Guardsmen came to the house of George and Lisa Jones. Mr. Jones, who is a shop steward for Local 16 of the Factory Workers' Union, had complained to newspapers and the HRC-Elmville about Guard intimidation of union meetings several weeks before this incident. The Guardsmen threatened that if he did not stop his complaints, he would be killed. Jones told several colleagues and his sister, Mary, about the incident. Around 11 PM on the evening of 4 July, men dressed as Guardsmen broke into the Jones' house and were seen dragging both of them into a waiting truck. According to witnesses who were detained that evening in the Federal Police headquarters, the Jones were brought into the FP headquarters very late that night. Detainees heard both of the victims being beaten, and one reports hearing threats to use the "telephone" (electric shocks given in the ear) against Mr. Jones, after which he was heard screaming. Mary Jones went to different police and military headquarters on 5 July. Each denied having arrested the two victims. A certain Agent Gates at the Federal Police said something to the effect that if anything happened to the victims, "they had it coming." The two victims' bodies were found near their house on the morning of 6 July. Mary Jones organized autopsies of both victims' bodies, and made a declaration to the HRC-Elmville. The autopsies indicated that the two had been beaten to death. The HRC-Elmville investigated and confirmed (through unsworn statements by other detainees) that the Jones were in the FP headquarters late during the night of 4-5 July. INTERVENTIONS UNDERTAKEN: Denounced to international human rights organizations 15/07/1996 To whom: Amnesty International By whom: HRC-Elmville Refers to: 1, 2 Denounced to other international organizations 13/07/1996 To whom: International Federation of Factory Workers' Unions By whom: Local 16, Factory Workers' Union Refers to: 1 Letters to military officials 10/07/1996 To whom: Col. Ralph E. COLLINS (Commander, National Guard) By whom: HRC-Elmville Refers to: 1, 2 Status: admits knowing of Mr. Jones, denies having arrested either George Jones or Lisa Jones. Letters to military officials 10/07/1996 To whom: John North (Director, Federal Police) By whom: HRC-Elmville Refers to: 1, 2 Status: no reply DOCUMENTATION AVAILABLE: Autopsy report by Dr. William Hogarth for George Jones 07/07/1996 Autopsy report by Dr. William Hogarth for Lisa Jones 07/07/1996 Deponent's declaration (Mary Jones) 09/07/1996 WITNESSES: JONES, Mary (sister of Mr. Jones) MARTIN, Ronald (trade union associate of Mr. Jones) SOURCE: Non-Government Human Rights Commission of Elmville (HRC-Elmville)
In this example, the first section lists the general case information. Note that the date of the event ends with a plus sign. This indicates that this is only the first of several dates on which violations occurred. There is also a case number and a file number. The case number indicates this case's position in a set of files reported at the same time (i.e., this is the 243rd such case presented in this group), and the file number indicates how this file is identified in the organization's files.
The victims are listed in the second section. The key note here is that the numbers assigned to each victim (1. JONES, George, etc.) refer to the numbered information in other sections. This kind of form is flexible enough to accommodate cases in which there is any number of named victims. The second section indicates that victim 1 (George Jones) was thirty five years old, male, and was a house builder. Note that additional victims can be listed in this section just by adding lines to identify them. In this case there is a second line giving Lisa Jones' personal information (thirty two years old, female, secretary).
The next section details the types of violations. The first line indicates that George was threatened by the national guard on 30 June, 1994. Other lines indicate other violations that happened to George (1) or to Lisa (2). Note that there can be any number of violations against each victim, and that the violations may have occurred at different dates. Furthermore, each violation may be qualified by a brief commentary. The first violation is listed as having happened on 30 June, whereas others happened on 4 July. The following section details the types of torture that were used. By including "torture" in the violation section and then detailing torture types in a separation section, the organization highlights torture as an especially egregious type of violation.
The next section indicates those organizations and individuals allegedly responsible for the violations. Of course each violation includes a reference to the organizations alleged to have committed it, but the "responsibles" section summarizes the perpetrators more succinctly. Note that all the commanding and executive officers are included as individually responsible. Many countries hold the commanding officer legally responsible for all the violations committed by forces under his command; this section highlights the commanders' names to highlight their responsibility.
The next two sections, location of the act and commentary, are simple text fields. The commentary must be written by a human being, but once it is created and stored in the database, it can be reproduced whenever it is needed.
The interventions undertaken form the next section. These interventions may have been done by the organization itself, by other organizations, or by individuals. By including this information here, the organization can show the work that has been done on the case. Similarly, the next section, documentation available, shows evidence which the organization can mobilize to support their claims. The final section follows the previous two by listing known witnesses to the event. The case summary closes by noting the source for the data, that is, the Non-Government Human Rights Commission-Elmville.
Summaries of the kind presented here are a clear and standardized way to present a few hundred cases in exacting detail. If the organization needs to present more cases (e.g., several thousand), then they might want to think about presenting less information, or about presenting the information in electronic form. For this many cases, the volume of paper produced for a report in this format would be overwhelming.