Many human rights activists will at some point come across video that is helpful for their work to protect human rights. Some advocates film events themselves, others are given footage by someone who captured human rights violations on camera, and sometimes activists find informative videos on the Internet.
For video to be accepted as evidence, it has to be both reliable and relevant. What do you do to make sure your video is reliable and relevant? We would love to hear examples from members of the legal empowerment network about how you have used video - successfully or unsuccessfully - in your work to secure lasting change, and any questions you have about how to use video in your work to protect human rights.
A bit of background: I am a human rights lawyer from Australia working with WITNESS. WITNESS trains and supports activists and citizens around the world to use video safely, ethically, and effectively to expose human rights abuse and fight for change.
Here are some great resources you can use to equip yourself with the training, techniques and tools to make sure your video is reliable and relevant.
If you are already using video in your human rights work or plan to, check out WITNESS’ Video as Evidence Field Guide and, if possible, seek training from us or our partners. To get you started, the sections on Basic Practices, Filming Secure Scenes and Adding Essential Information will help make your video more reliable and the sections on Anatomy of a Crime and Collection Planning will ensure your footage is more relevant.
###Techniques: In addition to learning how to film, one of the biggest challenges you will face is verifying the significant video footage you find online. UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center recently launched the first-ever Human Rights Investigation Lab using cutting-edge, open source research methods to verify and authenticate thousands of hours of video footage and photographs of human rights abuses and war crimes from around the world. If you are interested in open-source investigation, keep an eye on this lab, as the lessons they learn will be helpful for everyone.
###Tools: There are now apps for your smart phone that allow you to add information to videos and photos captured in the field to ensure your footage can be easily verified by investigators and lawyers not at the incident scene. Check out both eyeWitness to Atrocities and CameraV and look for more in this discussion from the eyeWitness to Atrocities project.