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Documenting hate against Muslims

This photo was taken at an unsanctioned camp north of Amman, Jordan, on February 11, 2017. Photo by Saeed Nassef, an Egyptian-Iranian photographer documenting the conditions of Syrian refugees. Find his work at

Ilaf Esuf is a recent UC Berkeley graduate and member of our Human Rights Investigations Lab. Over the past semester, she and the other students on the U.S. Team have contributed to Documenting Hate, an investigative journalism project led by ProPublica. They have searched social media to find evidence of hate crimes against Muslims, immigrants, and other targeted populations. Using verification techniques, the students have attempted to corroborate and substantiate the claims and then shared that information with the ProPublica database. Read Ilaf’s story about her experiences documenting hate, now on our new Human Rights Center Medium channel: “Documenting hate against my Muslim community” 

Discover Cal’s ‘Catching war criminals’ features Stover and Koenig 

Video now available.

The Discover Cal traveling lecture series featured the Human Rights Center’s Eric Stover and Alexa Koenig this spring in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orinda. Stover and Koenig discussed human rights investigations, from forensic science to open source, with Berkeley alumni and friends. Watch the video from the Orinda event here.

HRC’s Alexa Koenig wins awards for teaching, public service

The Human Rights Center’s Executive Director Alexa Koenig was honored with the Phi Beta Kappa Northern California Association Teaching Excellence Award and Berkeley Law’s Eleanor Swift Award for Public Service. With each award, she was recognized for her dedication to students and commitment to developing the next generation of human rights leaders. 

Habré’s acquittal on rape must not be forgotten, writes Kim Thuy Seelinger in The Guardian

The Human Rights Center’s Kim Thuy Seelinger was in Dakar, Senegal, where the court upheld the conviction of former Chad dictator Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity, including for sexual violence, but not for an individual rape conviction.  Seelinger writes about the decision in The Guardian—“Hissène Habré’s rape acquittal must not be quietly airbrushed from history.”

Seelinger also writes for the California Law Review about the Thomas Kwoyelo case and customary international law in Uganda

Meet our 2017 Human Rights Center Fellows—working for rights and justice in 11 countries 

Congratulations to our 2017 Human Rights Center Fellows, who will work with survivors from San Francisco to Mongolia. Read about the Fellows and their projects!

San Francisco Chronicle features the Human Rights Investigation Lab

“UC Berkeley program seeks to help prosecute war criminals”

The San Francisco Chronicle featured the Human Rights Investigations Lab on April 14th, looking at their work using open source information to defend human rights. 

Read the article here.

Authors discuss book, Hiding in Plain Sight, in ALOUD Podcast Series 

Authors Alexa Koenig, Victor Peskin and Eric Stover discuss their seminal book, Hiding in Plain Sight at the Los Angeles Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium as part of the award-winning ALOUD at Central Library speaker series presented by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. The authors trace the evolution of international justice and how to hold accountable mass murderers like Adolf Eichmann, Saddam Hussein, Ratko Mladic, Joseph Kony, and Osama bin Laden. The authors also discussed the United States’ increasing reliance on military force to capture—or more often simply to kill—suspected terrorists, with little or no judicial scrutiny.

Listen to it here

Presenting the Human Rights Center’s 2016/2017 Annual Report 

Many thanks to everyone who made our work possible in 2016! Take a look at our 2016/2017 Annual Report. 

PBS NewsHour features Human Rights Investigations Lab

“A new generation of human rights investigators turns to high-tech methods” 

The PBS NewsHour aired a story on February 13 about our Human Rights Investigations Lab and our work with Amnesty International’s Digital Verification Corps (and students at the University of Essex and University of Pretoria).

Watch the story here! 

The Resistance: Alexa Koenig is featured in San Francisco’s Magazine along with other champions for justice

alexa-in-sf-magThe Human Rights Center’s Alexa Koenig is featured in San Francisco Magazine this month as part of “The Resistance”—Bay Area lawmakers, activists, advocates, and lawyers fighting for justice in this new political era. Read the article here. 

Freccero spearheads Call to Action for women’s rights in Greek refugee camps

20161017_125352-1More than a dozen international and national aid agencies working in Greece’s refugee and migrant camps have just signed a Call to Action  to improve gender-based violence protection, increase access to sexual and reproductive health services, and promote women’s empowerment.  Julie Freccero, associate director of the Sexual Violence Program, who spearheaded the effort, has been deployed in Greece since August with the United Nations Population Fund to improve the response to gender-based violence in the camps. The Call to Action developed from a Women’s Rights Briefing Paper that Freccero created with colleagues from Oxfam and other key organizations to synthesize research and advocacy in response to the refugee crisis.  

Read about Freccero’s work.

Human Rights Investigations Lab in the news

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-12-56-20-pmThe Human Rights Investigations Lab trained 40 students how to use open source techniques to document and verify potential human rights abuses and potential war crimes. The lab was featured in New Scientist—Human rights squad detects abuse in social media imagesand noted in a video about the Syrian Archive. PBS NewsHour has just shot a story about the Lab that is expected to air in February. This semester, we have more than 60 students in the lab working on five projects.

Read about the Lab.