Human Rights Investigations Lab

Human Rights Center Investigations Lab: 
Where Facts Matter

In Fall 2016, UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center launched the first university-based open source investigations lab to discover and verify human rights violations and potential war crimes. Today, more than 75 students from two dozen majors and minors who collectively speak some 30 languages are working in teams to contribute verified information to international NGOs, news organizations, and legal partners. Our #HRCLab is training the next generation of students how to find, verify, and analyze information found on social media—photos, videos, and posts—about some of the most pressing human rights challenges of our times. We’re working with partners to investigate potential crimes, abuses, and misinformation around the globe—including here in the United States.

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Chemical Weapons Attack in Eastern Ghouta, Syria: A Visual Summary of an Open Source Investigation

This is the story of how the Investigations Lab’s Legal Investigation Team found corroborating open source information and evidence to support the criminal complaint and contribute to a dossier showing that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in violation of international law.

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Violence Against Health Care: Attacks During a Pandemic

The HRC Investigations Lab and Insecurity Insight created a map documenting more than 1,100 attacks and threats of violence against health care during 2020, about 400 of which appeared to be specifically COVID-19 related. This report, investigated and written by the HRC's Anne Daugherty, Devon Lum, and Stephanie Croft with oversight from Christina Wille and Rohini Haar, dives into the dynamics of three such cases. The Associated Press reported on the findings.

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HRC collaborates with New York Times on Uighur investigation

The HRC Investigations Lab's Director Stephanie Croft led an investigation with the lab's John Ortilla,  Sang-Min Kim, and Danil Cuffe on China's forced labor program and use of Uighur labor to make PPE for the US, Europe, and Latin America. 

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Human Rights Crisis in Chile: A Digital Inquiry

The Research Center for the Americas at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Human Rights Center Investigations Lab published this report at the one-year anniversary of the 2019-20 protests in Chile. 

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Berkeley and Cambridge document violence against BLM protesters

The HRC Investigations Lab and the University of Cambridge's Digital Verification Corps  documented excessive use of force on Black Lives Matter protesters for this Amnesty report. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the findings. 

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HRC Lab documents blinding of protesters for Wash Post

The HRC Lab contributed videos, photos, and social media posts to the Washington Post for a story on injuries caused by police during the week of protests following George Floyd's death.

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Tear Gas: An in depth look at international abuse

Amnesty International's Digital Verification Corps at the HRC Lab, in conjunction with DVC groups on campuses around the world, won a Webby for their work documenting the widespread abuse of tear gas against peaceful protestors. The interactive report provides an extensive look at the mechanisms and health effects of tear gas, as well as a global map showing verified incidents of tear gas misuse.

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Video exposes Morocco's abuses in Western Sahara

The HRC Lab worked with the Washington Post to analyze video footage of a brutal police beating by Moroccan authorities in Western Sahara. The visual investigtation by the Post's Fact Checker team won a prize in the Global Fact Check Awards from the Poynter Institute. 

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HRC Lab investigates Portland arrests for Washington Post

The HRC Investigations Lab conducted research for the Washington Post's investigation into the unjustified arrest of four protestors in Portland by armed federal agents while protests over the death of George Floyd swept the city. 

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Verifying Sudan's Khartoum massacre

“Chaos and Fire”: An Analysis of Sudan’s June 3, 2019 Khartoum Massacre is a Physicians for Human Rights report (March 2020) with verification contributions from Michael Elsanadi, Catherine Chang, Mariam Doaud, Ceren Fitoz, Hannah Hartt, Rose Joseph, Kavya Nambiar, Brian Perlman, A.J. Shumann, Meher Wadhawan, and Feng Yin.

Lab contributes to Reuters' Myanmar story that wins Pulitzer Prize

Reuters' Steve Stecklow has won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the weaponization of Facebook in the alleged genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar. Our Investigations Lab student team contributed to the groundbreaking story by helping to translate and collect more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images, and videos attacking the Rohingya or other Myanmar Muslims.