Tag Archives: WITNESS

Can I Get a WITNESS?

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I see pictures of people, rising up
pictures of people, falling down
I see pictures of people
they’re standing on their heads, they’re ready
they’re looking out, look out!
they’re watching out, watch out!

“This is the Picture” from Peter Gabriel’s So

The Libraries efforts in the field of human rights continue to flourish.

The Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) has announced a new partnership with human rights video advocacy organization WITNESS to preserve and provide access to raw video footage of human rights abuses and video productions collected from the organization’s partners.

WITNESS was co-founded in 1992 by musician and activist Peter Gabriel with Human Rights First and the Reebok Human Rights Foundation to provide support to grassroots advocacy through the use of video as an integrated tool in human rights campaigns.

This is the sixth partnership in which the HRDI has become involved. Other projects include work with the the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda, the Guatemalan National Police Archive, the Texas After Violence Project, Free Burma Rangers and the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen.

As seen by the recent successes and widespread use of video by citizen journalists in the uprisings of the Arab Spring, the growth of civic media to fight injustice will continue apace.

You can see the full press release on the new collaboration here.

And here’s video of the Ted Talk where Gabriel explains the concept of WITNESS:

HRDI Shares Best Practices

From a HRDI Rwanda trip.

(Cross-posted at the HRDI blog.)

In September, UT Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative representatives Christian Kelleher and T-Kay Sangwand traveled to Columbia University to participate in an advisory group meeting for the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) MacArthur Foundation funded project, Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study.  The Human Rights Electronic Evidence Study aims to understand the human rights documentation landscape – technologies, documentation creators and end users – and to identify tools and practices for improving documentation’s uses for advocacy and scholarship.

In addition to Kelleher and Sangwand, the advisory group consisted of librarians and archivists from Columbia University, Duke University and human rights organization, WITNESS, as well as practicing lawyers and professors from the University of Texas School of Law. During this day-long meeting, the group discussed how human rights documentation is used from the point of creation by an organization/activist to how it ends up in an archive for educational purposes and a courtroom for legal purposes. Based on their experience of establishing digital preservation partnerships with organizations that create human right documentation, Kelleher and Sangwand shared some of the challenges that can prevent such documentation from ever arriving to the archive (namely, trust and ownership disputes) as well as the HRDI’s approach to overcoming this challenge – the use of the post custodial archival model that allows organizations to maintain physical and intellectual ownership of their materials while depositing digital copies at UT for long-term preservation. Through presentations by legal experts (including the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice  Co-Director, Dan Brinks) on how human rights documentation may be used in U.S. and international courts, the HRDI was proud to learn that its metadata and preservation standards meet and even surpass the general recommended criteria for documentation authentication in a court of law.

The meeting’s discussion on the creation, preservation, and use of human rights documentation will be synthesized with the study’s findings in CRL’s final report due out in late 2011/early 2012.

T-Kay Sangwand is the Human Rights Archivist for the University of Texas Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative.