Documenting Human Rights Violations in Challenging Environments

2. Observe, Listen, Read and Record

Whether you’re observing an event with your own eyes, listening to a witness recount a story or gathering information from written documents and social media sources, how you record the information you receive will make the difference between a fair, unbiased collection effort and one that lacks credibility.

Answering the 5Ws+H consistently will help you avoid inaccuracies or the appearance of bias.

In Lesson One, you learned how to answer the 5Ws+H (who, what, where, when, why and how) to ensure your reporting is considered credible. Approach each source with the intention of answering the 5Ws+H. While you probably will not ask your source these questions directly, think about gathering evidence by asking sources questions in a way that reflects the answers to the 5Ws+H.


Including direct observation, first-hand accounts, and second-hand sources—such as witnesses—will strengthen your documentation and increase your credibility.