Amnesty International used open source intelligence (OSINT) research techniques to obtain and verify all of the media assets included on the incidents of police violence map. Videos were sourced from social media platforms, including, but not limited to, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. To document these violations, Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab, working with its Digital Verification Corps hubs at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Cambridge, gathered nearly 500 videos of incidents from social media platforms. This digital content was then verified and geolocated. The verified content was analyzed by investigators with expertise in weapons, police tactics, and international and US law governing the use of force.
Where necessary, videos were edited to protect the identity of the persons involved and a review was conducted to ensure that videos are not listed that could incriminate protesters, that could expose the identity of minors, or that could lead to possible re-traumatisation.
Note on Vicarious Trauma Protection
Monitoring human rights abuses is traumatic at the best of times. Amnesty International took steps to protect the wellbeing of the research teams throughout the project.
Following tips and guidelines from organizations such as the DART Centre, First Draft News, Amnesty International’s Citizen Evidence Lab, and the Human Rights Resilience Project, we worked to ensure that only those who needed to view the worst of the content did so, that all members of the research teams were able to receive any support they needed, and built a team atmosphere which allowed each member of the team to share their experiences.
Any investigation looking at abuses of international human rights law or international humanitarian law should consider the potentially traumatic impact on the investigation team – regardless of whether they are in the field or researching from afar, and should take steps to ensure appropriate support structures are in place.