The Hub poses vital questions over controversial execution video

Should You Believe Your Eyes? Allegations of Doctored Video from Sri Lanka is a good post on The Hub, analysing the reactions to the controversial video first broadcast by Channel 4.

Well over 14,000 people have to read read a related post on Groundviews (A video of shame and outrage: Responses, positions and clarifications) looking at the reactions to this video from government, civil society, media, the international community, diaspora and others. Despite concerns over the authenticity of the video by government, the Sunday Leader reported recently that “a United States company specialising in forensic services has in a preliminary report maintained that no tampering or editing was carried out in either the video or audio portions of the controversial Channel 4 video clip which showed a man in Sri Lankan military uniform executing civilians.” Further, in late October, the UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary executions Philip Alston said he was initiating inquiries into the video.

The Hub asks some pertinent questions in this regard (some of which have been tackled on Groundviews by commentators),

  • What should advocates do to ensure a video they may use is authentic?
  • What indicators can be used to determine authenticity?
  • What can/should video-sharing sites like the Hub or YouTube do to tackle the issue of fake or doctored video?
  • What other ethical issues does the Sri Lanka video raise – safety concerns, respect for individuals’ dignity, etc.?

As The Hub notes,

Somewhat obscured by the controversy over the Sri Lankan video’s authenticity are the ramifications of the video if it is real. How might the Sri Lankan government respond? Would it acquiesce to international demands for an investigation into war crimes committed during the long war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan military or would it stonewall and continue to deny any crimes occurred?

Update – 8 January 2010

“Reports by three independent experts strongly point to the authenticity of a videotape released by Channel 4 in Britain which appears to show the summary execution of bound, blindfolded, and naked Tamils by Sri Lankan soldiers. This was announced today by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, on the basis of detailed analyses conducted by recognized experts in forensic pathology, forensic video analysis, and firearm evidence.”

Read the full press release here.

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