News and Events
Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins joins the Human Rights Center
Award-winning citizen journalist Eliot Higgins has joined the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law as a Research Fellow, as part of the center’s Human Rights Investigations Lab.
Higgins, founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog, is a global leader in the use of social media and other publicly available sources to investigate conflict, including human rights violations. He publishes the work of an international alliance of citizen journalists who trawl the web to document the weapons and tactics deployed in armed conflict, including the downing of flight MH17 in Ukraine and Sarin and chlorine gas attacks in Syria.
“Eliot’s expertise in vehicle and munitions identification is well known, but it’s his ability to coordinate the efforts of a globally distributed team of investigators, and synthesize findings in an accessible way, that really sets him apart,” said Human Rights and Technology Program Director Keith Hiatt.
“We’ve entered a new era of human rights investigations and Eliot Higgins is at the forefront of that work,” said Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center. “We are honored to partner with Eliot and to support his groundbreaking efforts to investigate human rights abuses.”
Higgins is currently a visiting research associate at the Centre for Science and Security Studies at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. In addition, he is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative, where he co-authored major reports documenting Russia’s involvement in the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
The Human Rights Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley will become part of Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps, along with the University of Essex and the University of Pretoria. The center will launch the lab in January 2017.
A prison doc’s mission to fix the system: Q&A with 1997 Summer Fellow
As the Chief Physician at the California Correctional Medical Facility and Director of Hospice for incarcerated men, Dr. Michele DiTomas is charged with caring for some of the state’s most vulnerable people and helping to fix a broken system. In 1997, she served in Bangkok for her Human Rights Center Fellowship, while a student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. Since 2006, she’s worked tirelessly within the state’s troubled mass incarceration system. Read the Q&A here.
West Bank children: living in the balance between trauma and joy
Thanh Mai, a 2016 Human Rights Center Fellow, sends a reflection about working with children at a community center in the West Bank. Read her dispatch on the HRC Blog.
Prestigious fellowship sends Seelinger to Italy for social good
Kim Thuy Seelinger, director of our Sexual Violence Program, is in Bellagio, Italy, this month after being selected for a prestigious fellowship sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation. She will collaborate with 12 leading academics, artists, and practitioners from around the world who will exchange ideas about human behavior as it relates to building resilience and more inclusive economies. The Bellagio Fellows, part of a 60-year legacy, are chosen based on contributions they’ve made in their fields and unique approaches to advancing the social good.
“The Bellagio Center is thrilled to bring together leading thinkers from a range of backgrounds to explore the topic of behavior change, and to accelerate this interest and momentum for social good,” said Claudia Juech, associate vice president and managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation.
Proving Genocide: The Prosecution of Radovan Karadzic
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s March 2016 conviction of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide was a long-awaited milestone in achieving justice and accountability for the massacre in Srebrenica and other atrocities of the Yugoslav wars. In an event hosted by the Bar Association of San Francisco and co-sponsored by the Center for Justice and Accountability and International Justice Resource Center, Sun Kim, a lawyer with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Eric Stover, faculty director of the Human Rights Center, spoke with Nushin Sarkarati, from the Center for Justice & Accountability and Lisa Reinsberg, with International Justice Resource Center. The panel covered details of the genocide case against Karadzic as well as the experiences of loved ones affected by atrocities in the former Yugoslavia.
PBS’s The Open Mind: Alexa Koenig discusses war crimes, impunity
Watch this recent episode of PBS’s The Open Mind with Alexander Heffner interviewing Alexa Koenig about crimes against humanity, impunity, Guantánamo, drones, the International Criminal Court, and more. Koenig is the Human Rights Center’s executive director and the co-author with Eric Stover and Victor Peskin of Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror.
Spotlight: 2016 Human Rights Center Fellow Laura Klivans
2016 Human Rights Center Fellow Laura Klivans from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism is working with the Investigative Reporting Program this summer, producing a series of radio stories for KQED on the impact of charging kids as adults in California’s prisons. Read more about Laura and all of our 2016 Human Rights Center Fellows.
Challenges to accountability for sexual violence in Africa
In a new Peace Brief of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), HRC’s Julie Freccero and Kim Thuy Seelinger, along with Ketty Anyeko (of the Fund for War-Affected Children and Youth in Northern Uganda), present key findings from the 2015 Missing Peace Practitioners’ Workshop in Kampala, Uganda. Read the brief: “Improving Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in Africa.”
Habré convicted of rape and sexual slavery as crimes against humanity
On May 30, former Chad dictator Hissène Habré was convicted in the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal of rape and sexual slavery as crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison. The Human Rights Center had worked with a group of leading experts to submit an amicus brief that urged the court to revise charges to include sexual violence crimes. Signatories included Justice Richard Goldstone, Dr. Kelly Askin, George Kegoro, Dr. Patricia Sellers, and Professor Beth Van Schaack. Read more.
World Affairs Council: Authors discuss search for war criminals
Eric Stover, Alexa Koenig, and Victor Peskin spoke about their recently released book Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror at the World Affairs Council of Northern California in May. The Honorable Rebecca Westerfield moderated. Watch the video of the event.
Stover, Peskin, and Koenig cover sentencing of Karadzic
Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — “the crime of all crimes” — for abuses committed twenty years earlier during wars that ravaged the Balkans. Eric Stover, Victor Peskin, and Alex Koenig weighed in on the Karadzic verdict in Foreign Policy (March 24, 2016) “Radovan Karadzic and the (Very) Long Arc of Justice.” Additionally, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour aired a piece by Jonathan Silvers featuring Eric Stover and his role in the investigation of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia on March 24.
Are Facebook photos good evidence in international criminal tribunals?
Human Rights and Technology Program Director Keith Hiatt writes in the Yale Law Journal Forum about the promising use of open source evidence—publicly available news media, academic work, public reports, and, increasingly, social media and online video and image sharing services—by international human rights tribunals. Although open source investigations present their own risks in security, availability, and reliability, Hiatt notes that they will nonetheless save money and protect vulnerable witnesses and investigators. Read the Columbia Journalism Review quoting Hiatt on the use of open source intelligence in journalism.