eyeWitness to Atrocities, a new Android app released this week by the International Bar Association, hopes to add extra weight to the imagery of wartime atrocities in the courtroom by creating both a paper trail and a secure way to send the data to the association’s lawyers.
The International Bar Association (IBA) has a plan to give citizen journalism a little extra weight in war zones—and it could make such information easier to utilize in court.
The professional group, working with the backing of LexisNexis Legal & Professional, has released a new Android app, eyeWitness to Atrocities, which lets people record and submit footage of events through a secure, verifiable process. Data uploaded through the app will be stored on LexisNexis servers and then analyzed by IBA officials. Once uploaded, films can be deleted, adding to the safety of the process.
“There will be no trace to show that a particular video was there,” LexisNexis General Counsel Ian McDougall told The Guardian. “There will be a team of lawyers from the IBA in London who will review the footage and decide if it should be submitted to an international war crimes tribunal.”
War atrocities are extremely challenging crimes to prosecute, and even in an age where photos and videos from the front lines of a country like Syria can easily be distributed online, it’s often hard to verify the data. The technical features of the app help with this issue. The footage will take advantage of geo-tagging to confirm the location and the time that an image or a video was taken—information that can be encrypted if necessary.
“The eyeWitness to Atrocities app will be a transformational tool in the fight for human rights, providing a solution to the evidentiary challenges surrounding mobile phone footage,” IBA Executive Director Mark Ellis said in a news release. “Until now, it has been extremely difficult to verify the authenticity of these images and to protect the safety of those brave enough to record them. As an advocate for the voiceless, the International Bar Association is dedicated to empowering activists on the ground who are witnessing these atrocities with the ability to bring criminals to justice.”
The association is investing $1 million to promote and manage the application, which it hopes to expand to other platforms in the future, according to The Guardian.