The basics of open source investigation for human rights

Feb. 15, 2021

Human rights researchers and advocates have long used open source information to verify or corroborate evidence for human rights violations. 

But access to mobile phones, satellite imagery and social media has transformed the accessibility of this content. 

To best understand what open source investigation is, let’s start with some important definitions:

  • Open source information refers to publicly available information that anyone can access by request, purchase or observation.
  • Open source investigation is a process of identifying collecting and or analyzing open source information as part of an investigative process while open source investigations.

Amnesty International and other researchers and advocates use open source investigation for three reasons: 

1. To address challenges of access (safety issues can prevent people from travelling to conflict zones or other high-risk locations)
2. To corroborate testimony.
3. Absence of other evidence. 

Open source investigations involve examining three different types of information, including satellite imagery, public records and social media.

Interested to learn more, sign up for Amnesty International’s free 2-part course on Advocacy Assembly.