Creation and Organization of
the National Commission on the Disappeared
(Never Again) - Report of Conadep
Work carried out by the computer department
The Commission was faced with the task of listing all the names and particulars of the victims of repression - the disappeared, those who had disappeared and were later freed, and those killed. Since the list contained many thousands of names, it was decided to set up a computerized data bank.
To this end help was sought from CUPED (which deals with pensions, the national lottery, etc). This organization lent staff and equipment to the Commission free of charge in accordance with the Decree setting up the Commission and subsequent additional legislation.
CUPED prepared programs and set up a data bank drawing on the lists prepared by the Permanent Assembly on Human Rights, CLAMOR, OAS, United Nations and so on. The programs contained information with names, surnames, age, identity documents, date of the event, place of disappearance and the profession of the victims. As new lists were incorporated, their information was checked against that already existing in the data bank, to avoid repetition.
Two terminals were installed in the Commission's offices, enabling staff to enter information directly and to see it on a screen. The lists could then be complemented by further information provided from other sources, such as the testimonies given directly to the Commission. Everything was given a file number, to facilitate the checking and cross-checking of information, The terminals were used to carry out an exhaustive check of the data bank information. As some of the names contained were not supported by any documentary evidence, it was impossible to tell from the computer program whether two names such as Perez Susana and Perel Susana were in fact the same person. The checking of facts like this had to be done manually, by going through all the available data on the screen and eliminating those which belonged to the same person.
To help speed up the flow of data, another two terminals were installed in June 1984. Since by then other members of the Commission were using the terminals to discover information, a printer was installed so that this information could be obtained speedily without immobilizing either of the terminals.
CUPED's central computer was used to print out lists of the victims in alphabetical order, by document number, by age, by date of disappearance, and so on.
Finally, two other important tasks were carried out:
1. The work of checking and double-checking continued, in order to separate in as many cases as possible the disappeared from those who were freed, those who have been accounted for as dead, so that a final list and statistics could be prepared.
2. Work to include the places and dates the disappeared were seen in detention centres.