The President of the International Bar Association (IBA), David W. Rivkin (pictured), has announced the launch of the eyeWitness to Atrocities mobile app, a new tool to document and report international atrocity crimes in a secure and verifiable way so that the information can be used as evidence in a court of law.
Every day around the world, human rights defenders, investigators, journalists, and ordinary citizens capture photos and video of atrocities committed by violent and oppressive states and groups. The eyeWitness app will increase the impact of the footage collected by these courageous individuals by ensuring the images can be authenticated and, therefore, used in investigations or trials.
It will also provide assurance of authenticity to media who wish to report the photo or video. Under the leadership of Mark Ellis, Executive Director, the IBA created the idea for this app and worked with software professionals, prosecutors, defence lawyers and other experts in developing the app. Because of its importance in fulfilling the IBA’s mission to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, the IBA is devoting $1 million to this groundbreaking project.
With social media increasingly the forum for communicating human rights violations, many online images have raised awareness of atrocities around the world but typically lack the attribution or information necessary to be used as evidence in a court of law. Now anyone with an Android-enabled smart phone can download the eyeWitness to Atrocities app and help hold accountable perpetrators of atrocity crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and war crimes.
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.
The eyeWitness app records and embeds the metadata necessary to facilitate verification of the video and photos collected. This footage will be stored in a secure repository, maintained by eyeWitness and hosted by LexisNexis. The eyeWitness expert legal team will analyse the received images and identify the appropriate authorities, including international, regional, or national courts, to investigate further. eyeWitness will be an ongoing advocate for the relevant footage it receives, ensuring that it is used to promote accountability for the atrocities filmed.
The IBA has worked with various human rights organisations in field testing the app in Syria, Kenya and elsewhere, and the results have been excellent. We are now partnering with these and other human rights organisations to put the app in the hands of those working in some of the world’s most severe conflict zones. The app is now available and can be downloaded at Google Play. More information about eyeWitness can be found on its website, www.eyewitnessproject.org, or its youtubechannel: tinyurl.com/ppc7yvp.
eyeWitness offers a revolutionary solution to the evidentiary challenges of mobile phone footage and puts the technology in the hands of citizens to bring to justice those who have committed the most serious international atrocity crimes. The IBA is proud to spearhead this important project.