Outlawed – Using video for Human Rights protection and documentation

From Robin Good comes a wonderful post on Outlawed, a new film on the egregious violations of fundamental rights by the incumbent US administration post 9/11. As noted on the Witness website:

“Outlawed: Extraordinary Rendition, Torture and Disappearances in the ‘War on Terror'” tells the stories of Khaled El-Masri and Binyam Mohamed, two men who have survived extraordinary rendition, secret detention, and torture by the U.S. government working with various other governments worldwide. “Outlawed” features relevant commentary from Louise Arbour, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, U.S. President George W. Bush, Michael Scheuer, the chief architect of the rendition program and former head of the Osama Bin Laden unit at the CIA, and Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State.

“Outlawed” places the post-9/11 phenomenon of renditions and the “war on terror” in a human rights context and calls for action end these human rights abuses.

The use of video to document human rights abuses is a topic I’ve written about earlier on this blog, and is covered elsewhere as well.

The point about Outlawed is that using the web and the internet, and the growing popularity, low cost and availability of broadband access, it is available in a high quality format for downloading on to any PC. The distribution of video using digital video, made possible by the web, and popularised to a great degree by the incredible growth of sites such as YouTube, are a harbinger of a digital revolution in human rights violations mapping.

At present, I am engaged in a conceptual blueprint for a Human Rights violations mapping system capable of text, images, audio and video from traditional digital media devices (cameras, video cameras) as well as from mobile phones and PDAs. I see this as a process, within the context of ICT4Peace, as one that will complement initiatives such as Human Rights Video Hub of Witness and in Sri Lanka, citizen journalism initiatives such as Groundviews and VOR Radio.

In this digital age, we are all witnesses, and while professionally produced documentaries such as Outlawed will continue to be made, the real challenge for human rights activists this century will be on how to transform the millions of citizens who already have the tools with which to document human rights violations in the palm of their hands to use them for more than frivolous SMS’s. It is a challenge I’ve addressed earlier – on how to use mobile devices for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) – and is one that I suspect I will keep writing on and creating real world applications for in the years to come.

Also see:
Irrepressible – Safeguarding Rights on and off the ‘net
Defeating repressive regimes
Defeating repressive regimes – Take 2

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