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About Amnesty’s
Citizen Evidence Lab

Our Mission

The Citizen Evidence Lab is intended to support human rights organizations, practitioners and others to take better advantage of the digital data-streams critical for modern fact-finding. It is an online space to share best practices, emerging techniques, and tools for conducting investigations, combating mis- and dis-information, and contributing to a better-informed public.

Created by Amnesty International, this resource is managed by the Evidence Lab in the Crisis Response Programme.

“Citizen evidence” includes images, videos, satellite imagery, large data sets and other material showing a potential human rights violation that has been collected by someone other than an official human rights investigator.

– Evidence Lab Team

How we work

The Citizen Evidence Lab is a space for researchers, investigators, students, journalists and others to explore and share cutting-edge investigative techniques in human rights.

It includes guides on tools and techniques to verify open source information, and find layers of evidence of human rights abuses. It contains Amnesty case studies showing how methodologies such as video and photo verification, remote sensing analysis and weapon analysis can expose and corroborate other evidence of human rights abuses.

About our work

Our Evidence Lab brings together investigators, engineers, developers and others to pilot new and expanding tools such as artificial intelligence, remote sensing, weapons identification and big-data analytics.

Some of the more recent collaborative projects we have built include: 

  • the Amnesty Decoders network includes tens of thousands of digital activists able to process large volumes of data such as satellite imagery, documents, pictures or social media messages. Decoders projects aim to go beyond “clicktivism,” enabling volunteers to generate meaningful data for Amnesty International’s human rights investigations.
  • the Digital Verification Corps (DVC) is a network of multidisciplinary students at six partner universities who authenticate videos and images found on social media to support human rights research in a more complicated world of mis- and dis-information. The progamme won the 2019 Times Higher Education award for International Collaboration.

What is “Citizen Evidence”?

“Citizen evidence” includes images, videos, satellite imagery, large data sets and other material showing a potential human rights violation that has been collected by someone other than an official human rights investigator.

Frequently shared publicly through social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, this sort of documentation often exposes in great detail crimes that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. Although access and technology for gathering citizen evidence are constantly improving, there is also more disinformation that requires multiple data sources or tools to debunk.

“Citizen evidence” defines any material – such as images or videos – showing a potential human rights violation, collected by someone other than an official human rights investigator.

– Evidence Lab Team

Example of “Citizen evidence”: A Syrian refugee shows a photograph of an airstrike observed from his balcony in Aleppo, in an informal refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, on February 22, 2016. Vincent LECOMTE / Contributor

Evidence Lab Authors

Christoph Koettl

Christoph Koettl

Visual Investigations Journalist

New York Times

@ckoettl
Sam Dubberley

Sam Dubberley

Acting Head, Evidence Lab & Head, DVC

Amnesty International

@samdubberley
Mitchell Paquette

Mitchell Paquette

DVC assistant

Amnesty International

@m_paquett
Milena Marin

Milena Marin

Senior Advisor, Evidence Lab

Amnesty International

@milena_iul
Scott Edwards

Scott Edwards

Senior Advisor, Evidence Lab

Amnesty International

@sxedwards
Brian Castner

Brian Castner

Senior Crisis Advisor – Weapons & Military Operations

Amnesty International

@brian_castner
Micah Farfour

Micah Farfour

Senior Remote Sensing Advisor

Amnesty International

@AI_Micah

Acklowledgements

This site is largely based on the Evidence Lab’s experience working with remote sensing data and validating photos and videos, along with other open source information over the last decade. More recently, the team has also expanded our use of innovative investigation methods to include crowdsourcing, data science and machine learning. And every year we are exploring more, and developing best practices. 

We would like to thank our partners…

Digital Verification Corps Partners

Centre for Human Rights

Centre for Human Rights

University of Pretoria

Website
Human Rights Centre

Human Rights Centre

University of Essex

Website
Human Rights Center

Human Rights Center

University of California, Berkeley

Website

Technology Partners

Truly Media

Truly Media

Web-based collaboration platform

Website
Focal Labs

Focal Labs

Technical partner for Amnesty Decoders

Website