Documenting Human Rights Violations in Challenging Environments

Be Careful with Internet-based Sources

You may find an event mentioned on several websites, but this does not mean that each website is an independent source. The information might have been reposted from another site or may restate something found on another website. This does not constitute confirmation of a source. Find out where the information originated and assess its reliability.

3. Check the Facts

Third, find two additional independent sources who can verify each statement. These sources can include credible media sources who reported on the event, witnesses and human rights reports, among other public and private sources. The two sources should have obtained the information independently (i.e. not from the same source).

In some cases, a fact cannot be verified by two additional sources. For example, if you’re interviewing a witness who was the only person to observe a particular human rights abuse, there is no way to confirm that this incident took place. However, that does not mean the information should be discarded. Rather, record the information as “unverified.”