Documenting Human Rights Violations in Challenging Environments


One way to collect information on human rights violations is to use public sources, such as documents, videos, and images, to name a few. As you probably know, you can collect information from different types of public sources. Some examples are:

  • Direct Observation: Did you see or hear something with your own eyes? If so, you have information about that incident.
  • Second-Hand Sources: Are you interviewing eye-witnesses or investigating photographic or video evidence of an incident?
  • Media Sources: Are you collecting information from media sources such as newspapers, magazines, online news services, television or radio stations?
  • Social Media Sources: In the digital age, many violations are reported through news outlets, blogs or social media sites. Are you scouring Twitter, Facebook or Balatarin for reports of rights violations?
  • Public Data: Do you have access to government reports, court documents, transcripts of hearings, international agreements or conventions or other official documents available to the public?
  • Academic Resources: Are you reading academic papers or reports written by human rights groups?

In this lesson, you will learn how to collect information using these sources by following a three-step process:

  • First, define your goals for gathering information.
  • Second, outline a methodology for collecting information.
  • Third, obtain and record information using your methodology.