The role of Uwazi in documenting refugee journeys

With millions of refugees facing severe human rights abuses, the need for systematic documentation is critical. Our partners use Uwazi to capture vital evidence for legal action, research, monitoring, and advocacy. This Refugee Day, we honour refugee resilience and highlight grassroots projects powered by Uwazi, dedicated to their protection and justice.


The crisis of forced displacement continues to escalate globally, with millions of refugees facing harsh conditions and severe human rights abuses when fleeing their countries. According to recent statistics by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCHR), there are 117.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, exposed to violence, exploitation, and inhumane conditions in detention centres and during their dangerous journeys. These abuses often go undocumented, leaving refugees vulnerable and without recourse. Honouring refugees today is essential to acknowledge their struggles, highlight their resilience, and advocate for the protection of their human rights.

Our partners use Uwazi to track human rights violations and document statistics, and the resulting databases play a crucial role in refugee human rights advocacy. By systematically documenting violations, these databases provide evidence that can be used for legal action, research, monitoring, and advocacy seeking political reforms. Here we highlight three outstanding projects, powered by Uwazi, that contribute to this mission: Detention Landscapes, the case management databases in Central America, and the Afghanistan Memory Home Museum. The first database tracks the inhumane condition of detention centres in Greece, the second are private databases that civil society in Central America built to support migrants on their journey, and while the third is not directly related to human rights violations to refugees, it plays a vital role in preserving the stories and experiences of displaced individuals, thereby strengthening the global narrative and supporting broader advocacy efforts.

1. Detention Landscapes

Detention has become a troubling constant in asylum and deportation processes across Europe, exposing individuals to inhumane conditions and systemic violence within closed facilities that are increasingly shielded from public scrutiny. This creates an environment where individuals struggle to claim their rights. 

The Detention Landscapes database was developed in partnership with Border Criminologies from the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, the Mobile Info team, and the Border Violence Monitoring Network. Launched in early 2024, it seeks to develop and maintain an interactive, open-access database of human rights violations inside immigration detention facilities, with an initial focus on Greece.

By consolidating and freely sharing knowledge, this project documents the conditions and conduct of law enforcement personnel within detention centres, providing an evidence base for further research, legal actions, and advocacy for justice and accountability. The database also aims to facilitate cross-regional learning and enhance opportunities for advocates and lawyers worldwide to access information that could bolster their efforts. 

“Initiatives like this database, which seek to provoke critical witnessing, are important, especially in political times such as the one in which we live. 

Preventing and addressing violence means reversing the trend towards violence being normalised. By getting to know features of chronic violent contexts, people can sensitise themselves better to the many challenges of documenting such contexts.”

— Andriani Fili, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Criminology and Co-Director of Border Criminologies

2. Case management and monitoring human rights violations in Mexico

Gang violence and insecurity from the countries of origin in Central America force thousands to flee, but Mexico’s repression of migratory flow and the United States’ brutal immigration policies and detention centres, force hundreds of thousands of people annually to take clandestine routes, cross borders, and travel through risky territories. These migrants encounter serious threats including repression by immigration authorities and armed forces, as well as exploitation, trafficking, smuggling and extortion by criminal groups. This results in severe human rights violations with devastating effects on those who are seeking a better life. 

The worsening crisis of forced displacement in Latin America and the violation of migrants’ rights are driving an intensive response from civil society to carry out its human rights defence work. HURIDOCS is working with various organisations in the area of human mobility, mainly in Mexico and Central America. This includes how to manage cases of displaced persons and victims of human rights violations, and how to monitor the migratory context for advocacy. By understanding the realities of our partners, we have worked to implement Uwazi as their information management solution that is tailored to their needs and political contexts.

To date, these efforts have materialised in the implementation of documentation processes and tools as private databases in Uwazi, with Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción (DHIA) on the northern border of Mexico, Un Mundo Una Nación – Albergue La Sagrada Familia in the centre of Mexico, and Voces Mesoamericanas, Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías and La 72 – Hogar Refugio para Personas Migrantes on the southern border with Guatemala. Also in Mexico, the Documentation Network of Migrant Defence Organisations (REDODEM), brings together 24 organisations throughout the country. The opportunity to become more active in the region is a result of our collaboration with the Red Franciscana para Migrantes (RFM), which includes organisations from Colombia, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.

Find out more about our work in the region here.

3. The Afghanistan Memory Home Museum

Decades of totalitarian regimes, wars and internal conflicts that have shaped the life of Afghan society. In a narrative often shaped by external political perspectives, the Afghanistan Memory Home Museum, developed by the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organisation (AHRDO), provides a platform for Afghan witnesses and survivors to reclaim their voices, honour their losses and offer a glimpse into the human experiences.

By curating personal artefacts, testimonies, photographs, and multimedia presentations, the museum not only provides historical context but also humanises the experiences of those affected by conflict and displacement. Moreover, the museum brings a sense of community to the Afghan diaspora and people in the country. It creates a shared space where individuals can connect through their collective history and experiences, strengthening bonds within the community. 

By making this information accessible, the museum empowers researchers, advocates, and legal professionals worldwide, enhancing opportunities for trans-regional learning and global advocacy. The Afghanistan Memory Home Museum underscores the importance of understanding and supporting the rights and dignity of refugees while fostering a strong, united community despite the distance and painful history.

Find out more about how HURIDOCS worked with AHRDO to develop the Afghanistan Memory Home Museum here

“By placing victims in control of their own stories, we aim to foster empowerment, authenticity, and a genuine representation of their experiences.” 

— Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organisation (AHRDO)

HURIDOCS provides tactical technology solutions to its partners, and to strengthen the human rights community. In order to do this, we deliver two complementary services: building Uwazi, which provides information infrastructure for human rights organisations and movements, and developing strategic standards and approaches for the sector. Both services aim to strengthen how documentation can advance impactful human rights work.

Support us in building and maintaining technology to aid and bolster the documentation efforts of organisations working with refugee rights globally.

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