Video as Evidence: Basic Practices
If you’ve been following our blog, you know that WITNESS is producing the Video as Evidence Field Guide which provides step-by-step guidance and case studies on using video to document human rights abuses for evidentiary purposes. We’re releasing sections of the Field Guide as blog posts, simultaneously to making sections available for free download via our Library.
This section, Basic Practices (download full PDF here), provides principles and guidelines for individuals interested in using video for human rights documentation and legal evidence. The section is divided into four parts covering:
- Part 1: Get Ready to Film
- Part 2: Press “Record”
- Part 3: Safeguard Your Footage, and
- Part 4: Share Your Video.
The goal here is to introduce guidelines and practices which will help ensure that your video can be used to support the process of bringing perpetrators to justice and freeing the wrongly accused.
The Basic Practices section will be particularly helpful to those who:
- Find themselves in a situation where they can and choose to record human rights violations as they happen, or in their immediate aftermath; and
- Want to share limited amounts of footage with investigators and lawyers who could use it in an investigation.
As with any documentation of human rights abuse, filming for human rights can be dangerous. It can put you, the people you are filming and the communities you are filming in at risk. Carefully assess the risks before you press “record”. Do your best to implement the guidance in the Basic Practices section of our Field Guide, but understand that nothing stated in this guide is absolute and you should modify the practices to fit your needs. When possible, seek support from local experts. Even if you cannot fully implement this guidance, your footage may still provide valuable information that could lead human rights organizations and advocates to answers and, in turn, to the protection of our basic human rights.
Additionally, consider if you have collected a large number of video files that you need to organize and manage, you should also review WITNESS’ Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video to learn more about the longer-term preservation of your footage.
Stay tuned as we will be sharing more guidance here and via our online Library, including different advanced practices for capturing, storing and sharing video as evidence.
Additional information on the Video as Evidence Field Guide Series:
Content in the Video as Evidence Field Guide Series is drawn from our work with input from attorneys, investigators, analysts, legal scholars, funders and our peers documenting violations on-the-ground. The Field Guide aims to improve the reliability and effectiveness of video shot for human rights documentation and for the use as evidence in criminal and civil justice processes. Click here to read all posts in the series.