New York, 26 January 2024 – The Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN in New York and Justice Rapid Response (JRR) were pleased to co-host an expert panel on the issue of leveraging the digital transformation to promote a victim-centred approach to justice processes on the sidelines of the 22nd Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute.
The diplomatic community could hear from Raquel Vazquez Llorente, a JRR legal expert specializing in emerging technologies and Head of the Technology Threats and Opportunities Team at WITNESS, as well as from Perris Richter, Senior Director, Innovation Lab at Human Rights Firstv and David Hasman, Head of eDiscovery and Data Analysis at the International Criminal Court.
“Technological advancements allow for the production of a vast amount of data (photos, video footage or audio content) and this data has the potential of being leveraged as evidence by national or international justice processes,” explains Ms. Vazquez. “This generates new challenges in terms of triaging the data and making sure it is used to put victims at the center of the justice process,” she continues.
New technologies also mean easier data manipulation, increasing the risks of jeopardizing the collection of potential evidence. Another major challenge that comes into play is the fact that justice actors are not always sufficiently equipped in terms of expertise and tools to be able to exploit safely the potential of technology in their investigation and justice-related work.
This means that to use efficiently emerging and innovative technologies, justice actors will need technical support to access and master them. Support with the streamlining of required technical standards for the use of these tools, the optimization of technology that can detect data manipulation and the mainstreaming of the necessary expertise to fully leverage these tools will also be needed.
That’s precisely where tools like Human Rights First’ Glimpse can come handy. “It allows for the detection, categorizing, and quantifying of violent incidences in large video datasets,” specifies Perris Richter. Human Rights First is also looking for support to adapt its tool to situations of conflicts, thus becoming an ally in the fight against impunity for international crimes and serious human rights violations.
“Private companies, for instance, have also an important role to play in bringing technical tools for data collection, verification, storage, etc. to the international justice sector and extensive collaboration with civil society is needed to ensure that these tools are being taken into account all across the justice sector,” adds Perris Richter.
Civil society organizations are not the only ones putting forward new innovative tools. International organizations such as the International Criminal Court are also addressing this issue head-on.
“We developed in partnership with Microsoft OTP Link, a new online platform providing a more accessible avenue for witnesses of international crimes – including rape, torture, murder, and enslavement – to directly submit information to the prosecutors of the ICC,” mentions Mr. Hasman. New features of the OTP Link are also being developed to help assess the validity and relevance of the information being sent to the Court.
Samuel Emonet, Executive Director of JRR, concluded by emphasizing that his organizations is also part of the solution as it is currently developing a project to make technological expertise more broadly available to its partners, leveraging its existing roster of over 750 justice and human rights experts to mainstream such tools and expertise.