EXAMPLES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The examples below are from WITNESS, our partners, and other groups that inspire us. They represent innovative ways that video collections have been gathered, verified and analyzed to tell important stories about human rights abuses around the world. These projects cover a wide range of approaches to developing human rights video databases, from using simple spreadsheets for cataloging, to developing complex platforms for forensic analysis.
FORCED EVICTIONS IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, thousands of families and businesses were forcibly evicted in Rio de Janeiro. Often times people were given no prior notice, were violently removed, and never received adequate compensation. These evictions were primarily impacting marginalized and vulnerable communities. Yet, the government, the International Olympic Committee and FIFA continued to deny these evictions were happening.
WITNESS partnered with Brazilian activists to collect, contextualize and verify 114 videos from different sources to connect the dots between and demonstrate how forced evictions were a systemic issue with common patterns. The video analysis supported a report about the types of human rights violations that were occurring during the evictions. Read the full case study.
WAR CRIMES IN SYRIA
The Syrian Archive is a Syrian-led collective that curates and verifies digital content, including videos, of human rights crimes committed by all sides in the Syrian conflict to use in aggregate as a means for accountability.
The archive had played a key role in investigations, advocacy efforts and creating reports, such as Medical Facilities Under Fire. The archive organizes materials according the categories used by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic set up by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The archive was created with open source tools and methodologies so it can be used by others.
VIOLENCE AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE IN THE U.S.
“Capturing Hate” is a WITNESS Media Lab project analyzing “viewer engagement with eyewitness videos that show transphobic violence filmed, shared and engaged with as entertainment” through a sample of around three hundred videos on platforms such as YouTube.
The videos and audience engagement with them tell a powerful and disturbing story of the abusive and often life threatening environments that transgender and gender nonconforming people navigate daily.
DOCUMENTING AN UPRISING IN EGYPT
The Mosireen Collective formed in 2011, during the uprising in Egypt. The documented and collected footage from people across the country and conducted trainings on human rights documentation.
In 2018 they released 858.ma, a public archive of the videos the collected over the years. The footage is licensed under Creative Commons and available for anyone to download and use. The footage has been included in investigations, reports and documentary films.
MISSING STUDENTS IN AYOTZINAPA, MEXICO
This interactive platform attempts to recreate what happened to the 43 students, 40 that still remain missing, from the Rural Normal School of Ayotzinapa in Mexico on the night they were attacked by local police with the assistance of criminal organizations and other Mexican security forces. The data points powering the platform include publicly available investigations, articles, photos and videos, “each of which has been located in space and time and plotted within the platform in order to map incidents throughout the night, and the complex relationships between them”.
The project is a collaboration between Forensic Architecture, Equipo Argentino de Antropologia Forense (EAAF) and Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh).
CURATING VIDEOS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN WESTERN SAHARA
The WITNESS Media Lab partnered with FiSahara and Meedan to create “Watching Western Sahara,” a collaborative platform that allows for curation and contextualization of videos documented by activists in Western Sahara.
As one of the world’s last remaining colonies, included in the UN’s list of 17 “non-self-governing territories,” Western Sahara routinely witnesses a range of human rights violations committed by the occupying country, Morocco, against its indigenous Sahrawi population. Yet, due to the strict limitations imposed on the press, foreigners, and human rights monitors, very rarely do reports, footage, testimony or other evidence of abuse emerge to bring them to the attention of the international community. Yet, one source of documentation exists: citizen journalism. Explore the project here.
DESTRUCTION OF CULTURAL SITES IN MALI
Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi was a member of Ansar Dine, one of the rebel groups that took control of Timbuktu, Mali in the summer of 2012 and that destroyed part of its cultural heritage such as ancient texts and sacred sites.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) charged and convicted Al Mahdi of war crimes with the help of a platform created by Situ Research to show the cultural damage done through a variety of evidence (video, photos, maps and satellite imagery).