Entitled the “eyeWitness to Atrocities app”, it uses LexisNexis Legal & Professional Technology to securely store admissible evidence and has been hailed as a new tool for documenting and reporting human rights atrocities in a secure and verifiable way so the information can be used as evidence in a court of law.
With social media increasingly being the main forum for communicating about human rights, many online images have raised awareness of atrocities around the world. But these images lack the attribution or information necessary to be used as evidence in a court of law.
Thanks to the new technology, anyone with an Android-enabled smart phone – including human right defenders, journalists, and investigators – can download the eyeWitness to Atrocities app and help hold accountable perpetrators of atrocities such as genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes.
“The eyeWitness to Atrocities app will be a transformational tool in the fight for human rights, providing a solution to the evidentiary challenges surrounding mobile phone footage,” said IBA Executive Director Mark Ellis.
“Until now, it has been extremely difficult to verify the authenticity of these images and to protect the safety of those brave enough to record them. As an advocate for the voiceless, the International Bar Association is dedicated to empowering activists on the ground who are witnessing these atrocities with the ability to bring criminals to justice.” The design of the app is based on extensive research on the rules of evidence in international, regional and national courts and tribunals. It includes several features to guarantee authenticity, facilitate verification and protect confidentiality by allowing the user to decide whether or not to be anonymous.
“Putting information and technology in the hands of citizens worldwide has a powerful role to play in advancing the rule of law,” said Ian McDougall, EVP and General Counsel of LexisNexis Legal & Professional. The company’s hosting capabilities will provide the eyeWitness programme with the same technology it uses to safeguard sensitive and confidential material for its clients.
How it works
When a user records an atrocity, the app automatically collects and embeds into the video file GPS coordinates, date and time, device sensor data, and surrounding objects such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi networks. The user has the option of adding any additional identifying information about the image. This metadata will provide information integral to verifying and contextualising the footage. The images and accompanying data are encrypted and securely stored within the app. The app also embeds a chain of custody record to verify that the footage has not been edited or digitally manipulated. The user then submits this information directly from the app to a database maintained by the eyeWitness organisation.
Once the video is transmitted, it is stored in a secure repository that functions as a virtual evidence locker safeguarding the original, encrypted footage for future investigations and legal proceedings. The submitted footage is only accessible by a group of legal experts at eyeWitness who will analyse the footage and identify the appropriate authorities, including international, regional or national courts, to pursue relevant cases.
The IBA is partnering with human rights organisations to put the app into the hands of those working in some of the world’s most severe conflict zones, including Syria and Vietnam.
The eyeWitness to Atrocities app is available as a free download for all Android smartphones.
For more information, visit www.eyewitnessproject.org,
or watch the eyeWitness Youtube channel:Entertainment