The internet is increasingly emerging as a source for identification and documentation of war crimes, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has devastatingly proven yet again. But how does an image of a possible war crime go from social media to before a tribunal in a potential war crimes prosecution?
On a recent episode of Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Nick Waters, the lead on Justice and Accountability at Bellingcat, about how open-source investigators go about documenting evidence of atrocity. This week on the show, Evelyn and Quinta interviewed Alexa Koenig, the executive director of the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on using digital evidence for justice and accountability. They talked about how international tribunals have adapted to using new forms of evidence derived from the internet, how social media platforms have helped—and hindered—collection of this kind of evidence, and the work Alexa has done to create a playbook for investigators downloading and collecting material documenting atrocities.
Because of the nature of the conversation, this discussion contains some descriptions of violence that might be upsetting for some listeners.