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eyeWitness and its staff fight for justice | International Justice Day 2022

July 17, 2022

A blue background with three cartoon figures. From left to right, these are: a woman taking a photo of police brutality on her mobile phone, a male protestor holding up a sign, and a female judge.

eyeWitness helps human rights defenders around the world use verifiable photos for both accountability and advocacy.

eyeWitness seeks to bring the perpetrators of atrocities to justice by providing human rights defenders the eyeWitness to Atrocities camera app and legal expertise so they can build photo and video dossiers that can be authenticated for use in criminal investigations or trials.

To mark International Justice Day 2022 (July 17), the eyeWitness team is sharing what justice means to them and how their work helps to deliver that vision.

Wendy Betts, Director

"To me, justice is when perpetrators are held responsible for their actions and stripped of their power, position, and ability to continue to commit such crimes. However, the process by which this is achieved also matters. For justice to be meaningful, the individuals who experienced the abuses must be at the center of the process and have the opportunity to share their stories if they wish.

"eyeWitness provides a tool to allow the people experiencing the abuses to play a role in obtaining justice for them. Moreover, the fact we safeguard footage means that they can still play a role in the justice process even decades after the abuse has occurred. The idea that eyeWitness will be able to provide an investigation with provably untouched footage years into the future is both incredible and vital for justice."

Anna Gallina, Associate Legal Advisor

"Justice means different things to different people. Ultimately, I feel like it doesn’t really matter what I think justice is. International lawyers, tribunals, NGOs, and other agencies should all be guided by what victims and survivors of mass atrocities perceive as justice, I see that as our true goal.

"By working closely with our partners to shed light on patterns of gross human rights violations, we hope we are able to help with this process, even if just by getting one step closer.

"On the accountability front, we support our partners’ efforts by providing them with our legal expertise. We strategise jointly to widen the reach of the photos and videos they capture on the frontline, connect them with accountability mechanisms and – in some instances – we also help them to draft submissions as we recently did with partners in Nigeria."

Maria Mingo, Partnership Advisor

"Justice to me means the acknowledgement and recognition that someone was wronged and the correction of that wrong, in the form that best addresses the victim’s needs and amplifies their voice. From an apology by the perpetrator to a court judgment and reparations, victim-centred justice can take many forms and be powerful and transformative.

"For court judgments in particular, proof is required and that is where the work of eyeWitness to Atrocities can be extremely valuable. As Partnership Advisor, I have the privilege of working closely with courageous and inspiring activists who gather potential evidence at great personal risk. Supporting those important efforts so that the photos and videos they collect can be used to obtain justice for atrocity crimes is incredibly impactful."

Christina Stevenson, Project Administrator

"While justice as a concept is found in all human societies, it takes on different beliefs, priorities and practices cross-culturally. For me, this makes justice a social phenomenon. As such, culture and context are central to understandings and experiences of justice. Recognising that there is more than one vision of justice and understanding the many faces of it on the ground is important for its realisation, it can also show us new possibilities. I believe, to achieve post-conflict accountability and reconciliation, international judicial interventions must reflect the needs and wishes of the victims and survivors for whom they are seeking justice for.

"eyeWitness' participatory approach, through its engagement with local civil society groups to identify crimes against humanity, is what attracted me to the organisation. Through working at eyeWitness, I hope to contribute to facilitating local engagement with justice."

Deborah Bazeley, Communications Coordinator

"I believe in transformative justice where the underlying causes of harm addressed. I also believe that justice should be survivor centric and can take many forms depending on their wishes and needs. Unfortunately, many survivors face an uphill battle accessing legal, political, and cultural structures to obtain the justice they deserve.

"eyeWitness is helping to change that by providing accessible verification technology, legal expertise, and direct links to accountability mechanisms. As Communications Coordinator, I optimise eyeWitness’ digital channels and messaging to ensure that documenters can find and access our services. I also have the honour of sharing the voices and triumphs of our partners and independent users who are fighting for justice around the world."