Documenting Human Rights Violations in Challenging Environments

Sifting through large quantities of information can seem like a daunting task. The “5WS+H” concept is a helpful tool for remembering what questions to ask when collecting information. Journalists, researchers and investigators all use this concept to ensure they’re asking all the relevant questions.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself when collecting information.

The 5Ws

  • Who is involved in the situation/incident?
  • What happened?
  • When did the event occur? (and did it happen on a particular day, or has it been occurring over a period of days, weeks or years?)
  • Where did the situation/incident occur? (be as specific as possible)
  • Why did the situation/incident occur? (based on the evidence you have collected, such as documents, interviews or news articles)

The H

  • How did it happen? What are the details of the situation/incident?

By the time you complete this lesson, you will have learned and practiced how to ask and answer each question in the 5WS+H.