In the age of mobile phones, activists, investigators, journalists, and civilians around the world are capturing human rights violations on video on a daily basis. They are filming forced evictions, illegal dumping, police violence, stories of bribery and corruption, and countless other unjust acts. But all too often, they are not filming safely or effectively, and their videos don’t make a difference.
On Tuesday, November 29th, 2016, Kelly Matheson (@KellyMatheson ) from WITNESS gave an enriching webinar where we learned how to capture and use video footage to protect human rights and bring about justice. A total of 121 members joined us from around the globe, with 40 different countries represented.
In this webinar, we received practical guidance on what footage to capture and how to capture it in order for it to be serve as effective evidence. We also learned how best to organize, manage, and use the footage to bring about justice.
Participants had the opportunity to ask questions and explore the role that video and technology are playing in transforming the fields of justice and accountability. We highlighted a few questions and answer below:
Is there anything different about using videos for campaigns/story telling versus video for use in legal cases? (Can you share videos you want to use as evidence before you use them in court?)
When you use video to tell a story or support a campaign, you often will need to edit video and package it up into clips to suit your goals. When you are filming for documentation - that is, when you are filming because you hope your video will be used in a court case because it documents wrongdoing - it is really important that the whole video is preserved so the judge can see everything that happened. Keeping your video in its original format means that lawyers can decide later how to present it.
Is it better to only film things you know you need or should you film everything you can?
A good general rule is to try and film as much as you can - you never know what you might capture in your frame that will be useful later. The first question to ask yourself is always: is this safe? If yes, aim to film more of what you need rather than less.
Is there a problem with filming people without their permission?
It depends on a lot of factors, including where you are, the age of the person on camera, and the purpose of filming. If you are filming an interview, consent is very important. If you are trying to capture evidence of wrongdoing as it happens, it is different. Generally, if you are filming events in public, you do not need permission to film. This may change if you are filming events in a private space. There are also specific exceptions. For example, if you are filming police in places like the United States, you have a right to film in most situations and the police cannot tell you to stop. The best idea is to speak to a lawyer if you can before you start filming and generally use your common sense. If you already have the footage and are not sure about the legal situation, try to speak to a lawyer before you share it with anyone.
If you have additional questions for WITNESS, contact Kelly Matheson (@KellyMatheson)
Please find the WITNESS: Video as Evidence Field Guide discussed in this webinar in the resource library, linked below.