Real vs. Fake: How To Authenticate YouTube Videos

Citizen Footage

During crises or disasters, YouTube is widely used to share footage – including a host of videos that are old or, in some cases, staged or faked. An enormous challenge for human rights workers, journalists or first responders alike is to separate fact from fiction. Now, there’s a website that can help.

The Citizen Evidence Lab - launched today – is the first dedicated verification resource for human rights workers, providing tools for speedy checks on YouTube videos as well as for more advanced assessment.

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Families Torn Apart in the Name of Security

On World Refugee Day, we’re highlighting just some of the stories of millions of refugees around the world (Photo Credit: Reinnier Kaze/AFP/Getty Images).

On World Refugee Day, we’re highlighting just some of the stories of millions of refugees around the world (Photo Credit: Reinnier Kaze/AFP/Getty Images).

This piece was originally published by Daily Nation. To watch and read the testimonies of other refugees torn away from their families during Usalama Watch, visit www.tamuka.org and follow #1FamilyKenya on social media.

By Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

Last month, 18-year-old Ayaan suddenly found herself at the head of her household. Her mother and father had been arrested in Nairobi as part of the counter-terrorism operation dubbed ‘Usalama Watch.’

They were detained in Kasarani stadium before being forcibly relocated to Kakuma refugee camp over 500 miles away, leaving Ayaan alone to look after her seven brothers and sisters – all under the age of 10.

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Kenya’s Withdrawal From The International Criminal Court and Why It Matters

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto arrives on September 23, 2013 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto arrives on September 23, 2013 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

On September 5, the Kenyan parliament passed a motion to withdraw Kenya from the International Criminal Court. The decision came about days before Vice President Samoei Ruto faced trial at The Hague following his indictment for committing crimes against humanity in the bloody 2007 elections violence.

Last week, the African Union announced it would hold a special session in early October to discuss whether the AU members should withdraw from the ICC even as they announced plans to request that the hearings be transferred to Nairobi. The case has raised a critical and ongoing challenge to human rights in Africa:

Can political leaders in Africa be held to account for committing serious human rights abuses?

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What Happens When You Cry Wolf to the Kenyan Crowd

One of the recurrent challenges associated with utilizing social media outlets to report and monitor a situation during a period of time when ground events may or may not be rapidly developing (such as in Kenya): the situation is often times much more complex than 140 characters can convey, and the incorrect use of just a few words, could easily become an overflow of ingredients to an already bubbling human rights situation (Photo Credit: Till Muellenmeister/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the recurrent challenges associated with utilizing social media outlets to report and monitor a situation during a period of time when ground events may or may not be rapidly developing (such as in Kenya): the situation is often times much more complex than 140 characters can convey, and the incorrect use of just a few words, could easily become an overflow of ingredients to an already bubbling human rights situation (Photo Credit: Till Muellenmeister/AFP/Getty Images)

Like many others, I have been closely watching the Kenyan elections. In fact, these elections may be the most “watched” elections ever. I am not necessarily talking about observers on the ground. Digital tools, including social media outlets, have greatly enhanced remote monitoring capability, and have emerged as a major component in the Kenyan elections.

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Twitter to the Rescue? How Social Media is Transforming Human Rights Monitoring

Syrian youths, inside a vehicle, film a protest against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with their phones in the northern city of Aleppo.

Syrian youths, inside a vehicle, film a protest against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with their phones in the northern city of Aleppo on October 12, 2012. (Photo: TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

Social media is increasingly helpful to not only monitor emerging human rights emergencies, but also to uncover incorrect information. A recent example is when Twitter helped me to spot incorrect contextual information on a newly uploaded execution video from Syria. This is just one instance in which crowdsourced expertise from social media can open up new opportunities for human rights organizations. Having that said, the challenges and pitfalls are numerous. I thought about these issues a lot while preparing for a Truthloader debate last week on how citizen journalism is changing the world. Current case in point is the upcoming elections in Kenya, which are probably the best (citizen) monitored elections in history.

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Milestone for International Justice in Kenya

Kenya police passout paradeOn Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that four out of six senior-level Kenyan officials must stand trial for crimes against humanity. This includes two presidential hopefuls, and all four are accused of complicity in the widespread violence that erupted in the aftermath of the bitterly disputed 2007 presidential elections which left over half a million Kenyans displaced and over 1,100 killed.

The ruling by the ICC marks an important milestone for victims of violence and their right to justice, truth, and reparations, and will also go far in setting a historic precedent in ensuring international justice for crimes committed against humanity worldwide. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo stated:
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Horror and Hope in Kenya's Informal Settlements

Man surveys the wreckage of his home

Man surveys the wreckage of his home

By Mariah Ortiz, Kenya Country Specialist for Amnesty USA

Imagine you are sleeping in your bed, and suddenly you hear the sounds of a bulldozer outside your window.  You have to run outside to avoid being crushed.  You escape, but your home is flattened before your eyes . . .

Now imagine that you are walking home, and the sewer suddenly ignites.  You cry out as people around you burst into flames . . .

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Kenyan Human Rights Defender Arrested in Wake of Kampala Attack

A police post in Kampala, Uganda(c) Amnesty International

As the world was watching every dribble, pass, and shot of the World Cup final match, a bomb exploded in Kampala, Uganda killing 76 people. Now, Uganda is making matters worse by arbitrarily arresting and detaining Al-Amin Kimanthi, the head of the Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) in Kenya.  Kimanthi was arrested on September 15 as he flew to Uganda to observe the trial of six other Kenyans on trial for the bombing. He was charged with terrorism and murder six days later.

Uganda and Kenya both have not followed international standards nor human rights law in their handling of Kimanthi’s case.  Beginning with his arbitrary arrest and six day detention without being charged, Kimanthi’s charge sheet has no evidence linking him to the bomb attack. Furthermore, Kenya has ignored his right to habeas corpus in his incognito transfer to Uganda.  Both Kenya and Uganda have failed to respect extradition procedures which require reciprocal warrants of arrests in both countries and judicial hearings.

It seems as though Kimanthi was arbitrarily arrested for carrying out his legitimate human rights work – providing legal support to the suspects charged in connection with the bomb attack.

Amnesty is calling on the Ugandan government to release Kimanthi or specify the charges against him. The perpetrators of the July, 2010 bombing in Kampala must be brought to justice, but this must not come at the expense of international human rights law and standards.

Millennium Development Goals Are Failing World's Poorest People

World leaders are meeting next week at a United Nations Summit in New York to review progress made to alleviate poverty around the world since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set a little over a decade ago.  Unfortunately, the MDGs are failing the world’s poorest people because governments are ignoring and abusing human rights.

More than a billion people living in slums are not even included in MDG efforts because the MDG target on slums only commits to improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers.

Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, will be leading Amnesty’s delegation to the summit.  He said:

“Unless world leaders agree to take urgent steps to uphold the human rights of people living in poverty, the poorest and most disadvantaged people around the world will continue to be left out of the MDGs.

“But language alone is not enough, people must be able to hold governments accountable when they fail to uphold human rights. They should be able to challenge corruption or neglect through courts and regulatory bodies to ensure governments actually fulfil their obligations.”

An estimated 70 per cent of those living in poverty are women. Yet MDG efforts in many countries fail to address the wide-spread discrimination women face in accessing food, water, sanitation and housing, while discriminatory policies, laws and practices that underpin gender-based violence and undermine progress on all the MDGs, have been left to fester.

Kenya is one country whose policies have ignored the needs of women living in slums © Amnesty International

Many states are carrying out mass forced evictions that drive slum dwellers even deeper into poverty and violate their right to housing.

For example, in just one city in Nigeria over 200,000 people are currently facing eviction because the authorities plan to demolish more than 40 informal settlements in Port Harcourt’s waterfront area. Thousands will lose their livelihoods as well as their homes if the demolitions go ahead.

Kenya is an example of another country whose policies have ignored the needs of women living in slums while trying to meet its MDG targets. Women living in slums risk being attacked when trying to use communal toilets, particularly after dark. The lack of effective policing to prevent, investigate and punish gender-based violence or provide an effective remedy to women and girls, means violence against women goes largely unpunished.

Another case is Nicaragua, which despite committing to the MDG target on improving maternal health, has outlawed abortion in all circumstances. The overwhelming majority of pregnancies as a result of rape or incest are amongst girls aged between 10 and 14, whose health and life are put at risk by unsafe abortions or by having to give birth at an early age.

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Kenyans Face a New Vote Tomorrow

By Mariah Ortiz, Kenya Human Rights Commission in Nairobi

Kenyans are eagerly preparing to vote tomorrow on a proposed new constitution, less than three years since the presidential election that led to a disputed result and widespread violence that killed more than 1,000 people and displaced more than 500,000.

Kenya's most recent elections in December 2007 led to a wave of violence.

Many Kenyans have read the entire proposed constitution back to back, and a number of non-governmental organizations are distributing “summary versions” of the constitution so that the public can easily inform themselves. Media coverage has been constant. The debate is heated, with both sides rallying, debating, and distributing campaign materials.

Some feel that rather than encouraging the democratic process and allowing Kenyans to vote and to make up their own minds, many organizations are strongly pushing either YES or NO. At the moment, most polls show that the YES campaign is ahead and likely to win with at least 65% of the vote. But this could change in a moment.

Some key issues have emerged from the debate: the devolution of power from the central government to the regions, reduced presidential power, land rights, the role of Muslim courts and abortion. Muslim courts and abortion have come to the forefront in the media because they are very political, polarized and emotional issues. Abortion is currently illegal and is a taboo subject. This emphasis on these divisive issues has drawn attention away from important constitutional provisions such as a proposed decrease in the share of the national budget for development from 30% to 10%.

It is fascinating to be here in Nairobi right before the referendum. Kenyans are eagerly preparing to have their say — many will travel great distances to their local polling station and wait starting at 6:00 AM in very long lines to cast their vote.

People are hopeful that this election will be peaceful and that this vote will be different from the disputed 2007 presidential election. Still, as Amnesty International reported, there is concern that some politicians have used hate speech to stoke the flames of ethnic hatred and that this rhetoric could lead to violence.

It’s important that the Kenyan government be prepared to protect its citizens from any potential human rights violations during and after the vote. I will be watching carefully, and will report again later this week about the referendum and its outcome.