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App lets smartphone users report verifiable war crimes

Mon 8 Jun 2015

A new Android app has been released to enable civilians, including journalists and campaigners to capture images and video evidence of war crimes.

The app is called EyeWitness to Atrocities and was developed as a collaboration effort between the International Bar Association and the legal services team at information group Lexis Nexis.

The app has been designed and built around extensive research on the rules regarding evidence across international, regional and national courts and tribunals. It is able to pinpoint the contributed material using GPS coordinates, and records times and locations among other data to identify where exactly the footage was captured and whether it has been edited. The app also includes several features to protect confidentiality by allowing the user to decide whether or not to be anonymous.

Mark Ellis, executive director at the International Bar Association suggested that the new app will be “a transformational tool in the fight for human rights,” arguing that it will provide “a solution to the evidentiary challenges surrounding mobile phone footage.”

Once a video or image file has been uploaded by the user it is only accessible by a legal team at the EyeWitness project. The data is then analysed and the experts notify the appropriate courts and legal authorities to pursue the cases.

“As we see on YouTube and other social media platforms, there are thousands of videos that are uploaded from warzones and other troubled regions,” said Wendy Betts, project director at the International Bar Association. She added: “What we’re trying to do is provide those courageous individuals with a tool to increase the impact of the footage they are collecting, by allowing them to capture a verifiable version that can both be believed and used to hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Betts also confirmed that recordings of other crimes such as human rights violations outside of warzones would be maintained and stored by the organisation.


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