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Ukraine: businesses and civilians advised by lawyer to capture verifiable photos before potential evidence is removed

June 23, 2022

A ground-level yellow-coloured building with three garage doors. All three garage doors are scorched black, the roof is missing, and there is rubble on the ground. Scorched commercial signs indicate that the building was once a LIQUI MOLY oil changing garage.

Businesses and civilians in Ukraine are advised to capture photos before damaged buildings are removed. ©eyeWitness to Atrocities

At an online knowledge seminar “eyeWitness to Atrocities (“eyeWitness”): an IT-Tool for Securing Damages Redress” hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, Ukrainian lawyer Roman Chumak warned businesses and civilians to capture footage of property damage before potential evidence is removed. Chumak is Managing Partner at Ares Law Firm, a member of the Board of the Ukrainian Bar Association branch in Kharkiv Region, and eyeWitness focal point in Kharkiv.

The seminar was moderated by Olena Volianska, Partner, and Head of Bankruptcy & Restructuring at LCF Law Group.

As Chumak explained, whilst war crimes documentation should ideally be carried by Ukrainian State authorities, many of the affected buildings are being either demolished or repaired before such authorities can visit. This is because some buildings, particularly high-rise apartment blocks, are unsafe and must be removed for public safety, and others need to be rebuilt for businesses to recover.

Consequently, Chumak recommended businesses and civilians capture photos and videos with the eyeWitness to Atrocities app before potential evidence is destroyed. Thanks to the app’s verification technology, users can capture verifiable footage that will stand up in future legal proceedings. Furthermore, eyeWitness will store and protect the footage ready for investigators long into the future. As such, affected people in Ukraine can rebuild without worrying about losing evidence that is crucial for future compensation and legal claims.

Also speaking at the seminar was eyeWitness Director, Wendy Betts. Betts explained the challenges of verifying digital photos captured with regular camera apps, and how eyeWitness’ verification technology and safe storage protocols ensure that images can be easily authenticated by investigators and courts of law.

Speaking after the event, Betts said, “Footage taken for damages also has the potential be used as evidence in war crimes investigations, particularly when using our app. We encourage any businesses or individuals interested in using the app to get in touch as we can offer additional training, technical support, and legal expertise. By working with us, businesses and civilians can focus on pursuing compensation and insurance claims whilst simultaneously aiding wider justice initiatives.”

eyeWitness has received more than 10,000 photos and videos from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February. Many of the images reveal extensive damage to both people’s homes and commercial buildings.

A special thank you to the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine for hosting the seminar, and to the Ukrainian Bar Association, LCF Law Group, and EU Project Pravo-Justice for supporting the event.