eyeWitness to Atrocities app surpasses collection of 20,000 verifiable items of potential human rights violations in Ukraine, and group submits evidence to UN COI

Tuesday 4 October 2022

In Ukraine, users of the eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app have safely deposited, in the eyeWitness secure vault, 20,000 verifiable videos, photographs and audio files of alleged war crimes since the start of Russia’s invasion. With 2,000 of them received in relation to the city of Chernihiv, and areas in close proximity, a submission has been made to the United Nations mandated International Commission of Inquiry (UN COI) on Ukraine.

IBA President Sternford Moyo commented: ‘The 20,000 pieces of footage demonstrate 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. These photos, videos and audio recordings reinforce the IBA’s position that accountability and justice in Ukraine are paramount. We are proud that the eyeWitness app is playing such an important role in this regard.’

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 20,000 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. Footage from Ukraine has already been securely delivered by eyeWitness to relevant accountability mechanisms, including the Ukrainian authorities and Europol, and now the United Nations mandated COI as reliable evidence of potential war crimes and other incidents. The international order is at stake and so is the need to ensure that those accused of committing the most heinous crimes are brought to justice.’

With ten per cent of these items relating to Russia’s invasion of the city of Chernihiv and surrounding villages, in Chernihiv Oblast in the north part of Ukraine, eyeWitness has made a submission to the UN COI on Ukraine regarding possible human rights and international humanitarian law violations committed between late February and late March 2022. 

The submission to the UN COI covers four key areas of destruction believed to have been perpetrated: residential neighbourhoods, schools and a children’s library, cultural heritage sites and key supermarkets. 

Wendy Betts, Director of the eyeWitness to Atrocities organisation, said: ‘Civilian homes, schools, community spaces and food supplies in and around Chernihiv were devastated during Russia’s siege. Given the veracity and quality of the footage, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the incidents included in this submission constitute at least gross violations of human rights and, pending further analysis, violations of international humanitarian law.’

Created in 2015 by the International Bar Association (IBA), the eyeWitness to Atrocities app is a tool that aids human rights defenders in capturing verifiable footage for submission 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.

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.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

  1. Related material:
  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 IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for the administration of justice, fair practice, and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.

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