Register for the 2023 Digital Investigations Summit!

Join Amnesty International’s Evidence Lab and its partners for a one-day event to discuss open-source and other new methodologies for human rights fact-finding.  

The event is taking place on 15 September 2023 at  bUm – Raum für solidarisches Miteinander. 

The one-day event offers a blend of workshops and panel discussions. Participants will have the opportunity to listen to and interact with specialists in the fields of technology, design, and human rights research. Some of the topics include surveillance technologies and their impact on human rights, the development of artificial intelligence tools to assist fact-finding, war crimes investigations, ethics of open-source and artificial intelligence, the role of open-source in exposing colonial crimes and research in closed societies with no-access to on-ground reporting. 

The Digital Investigations Summit is a unique global gathering of universities and practitioners working on open-source human rights research aimed to advance the field of digital investigations through community networking meetings and skills-share sessions. It is part of the annual meeting of the Digital Verification Corps, a global university network that works with Amnesty International to support documentation of human rights abuses using open-source techniques. Every year Amnesty International trains and mentors students from the University of Berkeley, University of Essex, University of Cambridge, University of Ibero, University of Pretoria and Hertie School of Governance who directly contribute to groundbreaking investigations of Amnesty International and its partners. In 2019 the DVC won the Times Higher Education Award for International Collaboration of the Year. 


10:30 – 11:00 Welcome, meet up and intro 

Marija Ristic, Amnesty International

Pablo Maristany, Hertie School of Governance

11:00 – 12:30 Workshops: 

Option 1: Researching surveillance and spyware  

Description: This workshop will explore how to research surveillance and spyware, coupled with discussion on policy issues that impact human rights researchers. It will use Amnesty International’s investigation into Pegasus software as a case study. 

Trainer: Likhitha Banerji, Amnesty International

Option 2: Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and open-source skills to detect explosive ordnance  

Description: This workshop will showcase tools that use the computer vision algorithm creation workflow developed to automate the detection of explosive ordnance in conflicts. These tools integrate photography, photogrammetry, 3D rendering, 3D-printing and deep convolutional neural networks. Such a detector can be utilized for searching and filtering images generated as part of open-source investigations.  

Trainer: Adam Harvey, VFRAME  

12:30 – 13:00 Break  

13:00 – 14:30 Workshops:

Option 1: Documenting deaths and abuses on migrant routes: Case study Saudi Arabia  

Description: The session will focus on ways open-source techniques, geospatial analysis and 3D modelling can be used together to investigate responsibility for killings, torture and expulsions. It will use Human Rights Watch’s investigation into mass killings and abuses of Ethiopian migrants and refugees by Saudi border guards at the Saudi Arabian border as a case study. 

Trainer: Sam Dubberley, Human Rights Watch 

Option 2: Using machine learning to detect dangerous speech: incitement and persecution in the context of armed conflict

Description: The workshop will focus on ways we can use machine learning to detect harmful speech in the context of armed conflict, focusing on incitement and crime of persecution. It will showcase novel methodologies to access the speech, as well as discuss challenges in accessing large datasets. The workshop will use the ongoing Amnesty International Evidence Lab project as a case study.

Trainer: Marija Ristic, Milena Marin, Amnesty International

14: 30 – 16:30 Lunch 

16: 30 – 17:45 Talk 

No Access: Remote Research and Accountability in Closed Societies 

Description: The panel discussion will explore how open source research and remote interviews can often be the only way to research human rights violations in societies where access is denied to free media, researchers, and civil society organisations. This session will dissect various elements that shape our remote research – from access to sources and content to internet shutdowns, government bans, and information biases. We will focus on countries such as Russia, Yemen, Iran, Myanmar, and Turkey.  

Moderator: Lena Rohrbach, Amnesty Germany


Valery Hopkins, New York Times

Omid Rezae, Iran Correspondent

Raji Abdul Salim, The Reckoning Project

Begüm Başdaş, Amnesty International

Basak Cali, Center for Fundamental Rights, Hertie School of Governance

Ella McPherson, Center of Governance and Human Rights, Cambridge University

17: 45 – 18:00 Break 

18: 00 – 19:00 Talk   

Using Open-Source to Document Crimes Rooted in Colonialism  

Description: This panel discussion will explore open-source research techniques that can be deployed to investigate crimes stemming from colonialism – ranging from revealing past-colonial crimes to understanding repressions happening today as a result of colonial structures. Researchers and journalists will share insights through case studies from Peru, Namibia, Cameroon, the United Kingdom and Germany focusing on techniques to study these violations. 

Moderator: Almaz Teffera, Human Rights Watch


Christoffer Horlitz, Forensic Architecture

Milena Marin, Amnesty International

Tina Lee, Unbias the News

Register here!