On December 14, 2021, as part of the ICC Assembly of States Parties side events, PJI Co-Director Dr. Kathleen Roberts moderated a panel co-hosted by eyeWitness to Atrocities and Truth Hounds on Using Digital Technology for War Crimes Documentation and Accountability.
Dr. Roberts opened the panel by contextualizing the large impact that the widespread use of personal technologies, in particular smartphones, has had on the collection and use of evidentiary material. While these technologies have made it possible to collect and share more information than ever before, the rise of digital information brings with it the risk of faked or manipulated digital content. This leads to new versions of old questions, such as “how can we assure that digital evidence collected, often at great personal risk, can be admitted in court?”
The eyeWitness to Atrocities app and its broader system are built to complement open-source investigations by allowing users to record reliable photographs and videos, maintain the chain of custody, and store their information safely until it can be used for evidentiary purposes. In order to provide additional support to targeted users, eyeWitness engages in collaborative partnerships with organizations documenting human rights abuses. One such organization is Truth Hounds, which has been documenting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Eastern Ukraine since 2014.
The panel discussion included a deeper look into the eyeWitness app’s initial conception and current uses, the ways that the information collected by the app is used, the relevance and importance of this kind of data collection in documenting atrocities, and the work that Truth Hounds has done in collaboration with eyeWitness.
As a founding co-director of PJI, Dr. Roberts centers her practice on providing respectful support to local practitioners seeking accountability for grave crimes, including – increasingly – through use of digital evidence.
- Roman Avrámenko: Executive Director of Truth Hounds
- Maria Mingo: Partnership Advisor at eyeWitness to Atrocities
- Anna Gallina: Analyst at eyeWitness to Atrocities
This event was sponsored by the International Bar Association.