Documenting Human Rights Violations in Challenging Environments

3. Check the Facts

Once you have collected information from a source and thanked them for their contribution, it is time to check the facts. Regardless of your confidence in the accuracy or truthfulness of your source, confirming each source’s story is an important step in collecting information. Here are a few simple steps to check a source’s story:

First, look through your notes of your interview with the source and mark with a symbol all of the statements that need confirmation. Statements that have been confirmed by at least three credible sources or are generally accepted as fact do not need to be checked further. (For example, if a witness is discussing the 2009 post-election protests, there are plenty of photos and video evidence that these protests took place; therefore, it is generally accepted that the protests were related to the electoral process, so this statement would not need to be fact-checked.)

Second, for each item you mark, confirm that it is possible this event occurred. Using your knowledge of the political and social environment in this country/region/city, is it possible or likely that the recent event or new report is true?