eyeWitness to Atrocities app reaches 10,000 milestone of verifiable photos and videos relating to war in Ukraine

Tuesday 31 May 2022

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to hundreds of human rights defenders in the embattled country downloading the eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app and submitting 10,000 verifiable videos, photographs and audio files of alleged war crimes. These pieces of potential evidence represent the largest haul for the app in a single conflict zone to date. The 10,000 milestone demonstrates Ukrainian human rights defenders’ desire to ensure that declared violations are captured and processed in a way that is acceptable for investigators and courts of law.

‘The amount of footage being generated with regular smartphones and cameras in Ukraine is incredible,’ said Wendy Betts, Director of the eyeWitness to Atrocities organisation. ‘However, many of the images seen on social media will be difficult for investigators to verify, which could potentially prevent prosecutors using them in trials. In contrast, the eyeWitness app’s unique verification technology and storage protocols, means the exact locations of the incidents, as well as the dates and times the images were captured can all be confirmed to the exacting standards of investigators and courts.’ Ms Betts expanded: ‘Aside from the verification issue, investigators are posed with the impossible task of sifting through millions of images. eyeWitness solves this dilemma by indexing the footage into a usable format and delivering it directly to investigators. By making our footage accessible, we greatly increase the chances of our users’ footage being used as evidence.’

Footage from Ukraine has already been securely delivered by eyeWitness to relevant accountability mechanisms, including the Ukrainian authorities, as reliable evidence of potential war crimes and other incidents.

Created in 2015, the eyeWitness to Atrocities app was as an initiative of the International Bar Association (IBA) to help human rights defenders capture and use verifiable footage in legal proceedings. Users upload their footage to the eyeWitness organisation’s secure server, which is hosted and protected by LexisNexis Legal & Professional, for verification and safe storage.

IBA President Sternford Moyo commented: ‘So many condemning photos and videos of the world’s worst atrocities do not lead to justice because they cannot be verified or accessed. Now, brave documenters equipped with the eyeWitness app are empowered to change that. As an organisation founded to protect the rule of law and human rights, I am proud that the IBA created the eyeWitness organisation and app. I am also proud of the leadership shown by the bar associations in Ukraine that are vociferously encouraging their members to download the app and use it as they look to the future to combat impunity.’

The app’s originator, IBA Executive Director Dr Mark Ellis, said: 'At the forefront of the thinking behind the eyeWitness app was achieving justice and accountability for victims everywhere and anywhere. The 10,000 milestone represents to me that human rights defenders in Ukraine hold the conviction that they must do what is necessary to advance justice relating to this war. The survivors of brutality understand that they must speak for those who have been killed as well as for themselves, and have consequently armed themselves with a tool to hold perpetrators accountable. We must work to stop atrocities from occurring and strive for a more peaceful world, but where that is not possible those accused of committing the most heinous crimes must answer allegations in a court of law.’

As well as supporting the hundreds of independent users who have downloaded the app in Ukraine, eyeWitness continues to support and partner with civil society organisations and journalists gathering evidence of war crimes. Partners’ names are withheld for security reasons.


Notes to the Editor​​​​​​​

  1. Related material:
    eyeWitness Ukraine - Resources Hub.
  2. About eyeWitness: Founded by the International Bar Association in 2015, eyeWitness to Atrocities (eyeWitness) helps human rights defenders around the world capture and use verifiable photos and videos for justice. As well as providing the specialist eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app, eyeWitness also offers training on photo and video documentation, legal expertise, and links to key investigative bodies such as the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. All these services are free. By combining law with technology, eyeWitness ensures that images are not only verifiable, but that they can be used to hold perpetrators accountable in courts of law.​​​​​​​
  3. Interviews: eyeWitness can offer interviews in English, Spanish and French.
  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
  5. Find the IBA and IBAHRI on social media here:

Please direct enquiries/interview requests to:

Deborah Bazeley

Communications Coordinator
Email: deborah@eyewitness.global 
Main office: +44 (0) 3300 240789
Website: www.eyewitness.global/ 


Romana St. Matthew-Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association

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Website page link for this news release:
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Full link: ​​​​​​​https://www.ibanet.org/eyeWitness-to-Atrocities-app-10000-milestone-reached-of-verifiable-photos-and-videos-relating-to-war-in-Ukraine