Investigating war crimes using modern technology (2/2) | DW Documentary

Modern technology is being used to solve war crimes. Satellite images, 3D mapping and algorithms are being used to search for missing persons in Colombia. [Online until: 05.09.2018]

More and more war crimes and human rights violations are brought to indictment. In almost all conflict and crisis regions in the world, people are now using their smartphones to document events. And older crimes can be reconstructed using satellite imagery. The documentary shows how state-of-the-art technology helps uncover these crimes worldwide. Lawyers and human rights activists around the world are gathering evidence of human rights abuses with the help of their victims. Atrocities committed in conflicts and crises around the world can be more easily detected and documented using the latest technologies. The chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Fatou Bensouda, for example, successfully used an interactive visualization tool for the first time in the trial of Islamist leader Ahmad al-Mahdi. He was sentenced in 2016 for the destruction of historic and religious sites in Mali. The organization Euromaidan SOS scours the net for YouTube videos, tweets and webcam images depicting the development of the conflict in Ukraine, checking the authenticity of the information directly on-site. After nearly half a century of civil war in Colombia, tens of thousands of people are still missing. With the help of relatives of the disappeared, the human rights organization Equitas is searching for the victims in remote regions. Satellite images, 3D mapping and algorithms are lending new momentum to the seemingly hopeless search. Using a 3D model of the city of Rafah, the research group Forensic Architecture has reconstructed the blackest day of the last Gaza war in 2014. By situating images, videos and witness testimony on the model, the Forensic Architecture team sought to provide a detailed reconstruction of the events of early August 2014. Equipped with just a cell phone camera, civilians today can call for justice. Networking through social networks makes the whole world witnesses – even to war crimes. Bottom-up surveillance by citizens and individuals – also known as ‘Sousveillance’ – is an effective weapon against abuses of power.

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