Three students work together on a project. Two girls look at one another and smile, and one of them points to something off-screen.

Human Rights Investigations Lab

The Human Rights Investigations Lab equips the next generation of lawyers, journalists, advocates, and researchers with critical investigation tools to tackle human rights challenges in the 21st century. Hundreds of students have been trained in our Lab to conduct hands-on digital investigations related to human rights violations around the world. Our students have come from more than two dozen majors and minors, and have collectively spoken more than 70 languages since the Lab’s founding in 2016. They are trained with resilience at the core of their investigative approach, and recognize the mental and emotional impact of this work. We are working hard to create a pipeline of researchers who are prepared with the technical skills, collaborative mindset, and resiliency tools to lead human rights investigations.

We partner with credible, respected organizations to strengthen their work through sustained relationships, some spanning several years, such as our eight-year, award-winning relationship with Amnesty International. Our Lab takes on up to a dozen investigations each academic year. Our students are divided into peer-led teams to tackle those investigations with our professional partners.

Join the Investigations Lab
Three masked individuals work on a single computer.
Yaas Farzanefar (left) of Berkeley’s DVC team works with attendees from other universities.

Digital Verification Corps

The 2016 launch of the Investigations Lab was accompanied by the launch of the Amnesty International Digital Verification Corps (DVC), a network of universities that trains students to verify videos and photos of potential human rights violations from conflicts and crises across the world. The DVC network was co-created by Alexa Koenig, HRC Co-Faculty Director and Lab Co-Founder, and Sam Dubberley, formerly of Amnesty International and now of Human Rights Watch. The DVC currently trains students at five campuses: the University of California, Berkeley; Universidad Iberoamericano; the University of Pretoria; the University of Toronto; the University of Cambridge; and the University of Essex. These students directly support Amnesty International’s research teams working to monitor and report on human rights violations globally. Every year, a selection of students from each campus is invited to a summit that bonds the DVC community through advanced open source training, workshops on ethics and resilience, and social activities.

UC Digital Investigations Network

As the first university-based open source investigations program, the Human Rights Center has championed a cross-campus cohort of more than 100 students by mentoring and supporting emerging investigation labs at UC Santa Cruz and UCLA. Together, this cohort has launched the UC Digital Investigations Network, an initiative with the potential to maximize investigations for impact. Together, this multi-campus cohort investigated the murders of Indigenous land defenders in the Brazilian Amazon, among other projects.

Program Staff

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Alexa Koenig

Co-Faculty Director; Director, Investigations Program

Human Rights Center

A woman smiling with brown hair.

Sofia Kooner

Assistant Director, Investigations Lab

Human Rights Center

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Gisela Pérez de Acha

Supervising Reporter

Human Rights Center

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Brian Nguyen

Research Manager, Lead Trainer

Human Rights Center

Lab Projects

Below is an archive of Investigations Lab projects undertaken since 2016. This should not be considered an exhaustive list, as not all of the Lab’s investigations are public-facing. Please visit #Verified from the Human Rights Center, our online magazine, for student reflections on investigations. If you are a student interested in joining our Lab, please visit this page for more information.

Real World Partners

The Human Rights Investigations Lab undertakes all projects with dedicated partners who are recognized leaders in their respective fields. This paves the way for meaningful impact. Lab partners may be international NGOs, media outlets, legal experts, or research institutions working to advance human rights. Not all partners are listed for security reasons.
Amnesty International logo
The Associated Press logo
CITRIS Policy Lab logo
Human Rights First logo
Human Rights Watch logo
Physicians for Human Rights logo
ICRC logo
CJA logo
IMUMI logo
Media Matters for America logo
Mnemonic logo
The New York Times logo
SITU Research logo
The Washington Post logo
Reuters logo
Atlantic Council
Azadi Archive
Centre for Climate Crime Analysis logo
Cultural Survival logo
Forensic Architecture logo
Hertie School
Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar logo
Investigative Reporting Program, Berkeley Journalism logo
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center
ProPublica logo
Pulitzer Center on Investigative Reporting logo
Queen Mary University of London
Rainforest Investigations Network logo
Reveal logo
Syrian archive logo
Universidad Iberoamericano logo
University of Cambridge logo
University of Essex logo
University of Pretoria logo
University of Toronto logo
Uyghur Human Rights Project logo
Watching Western Sahara logo.
Videre est Credere logo

Our Alumni

Investigations Lab alumni have graduated into high-impact jobs around the globe since its founding. They’ve won Pulitzer Prizes and Peabody Awards, have led revealing investigations, and are setting standards for excellence across the field of fact-finding. Several of our extraordinary alumni are listed below:

Historical Staff

  • Stephanie Croft, Director, 2019–2023
  • Félim McMahon, Director, 2018–2019
  • Andrea Lampros, Lab Manager, 2016–2018
  • Alexa Koenig, Director, 2016–2018
  • Alexa Koenig and Andrea Lampros: Co-Founders, 2016




A collage of women and men wearing eye patches. Text reads:

March 23, 2024

Investigation Finds Dozens Of Iranian Protesters Lost Their Eyes

HRC in the News — Iran International: Investigation Finds Dozens Of Iranian Protesters Lost Their Eyes, profiling the Iran investigation supported by the Investigations Lab and HRC’s

Two young women look at the camera.

March 21, 2024

More than 120 protesters blinded by Iranian agents, probe confirms

HRC in the News — Berkeley News: More than 120 protesters blinded by Iranian agents, probe confirms, profiling the Iran investigation supported by the Investigations Lab and HRC’s

Official Launch: Iranian Archive. Following the release of the UN Fact-finding Mission on Iran's report to the UN Human Rights Council, our coalition is announcing the launch of the Iranian Archive. This landmark archive forensically preserved 1,000,000+ vulnerable digital artifacts recording serious human rights violations committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran against Woman, Life, Freedom movement protesters. The Iranian Archive is intended to support future investigations and accountability proceedings.

March 18, 2024

Launching the Iranian Archive to Support Future Accountability Efforts

HRC in the News — Mnemonic: Launching the Iranian Archive to Support Future Accountability Efforts, announcing the Iran Archive – a joint effort by the Atlantic Council’s Strategic

A woman and man are depicted with individual headshots, next to one another. Both smile at the camera. The text reads:

March 18, 2024

Two Investigations Lab alumni announced as 2024-25 New York Times Fellows

HRC in the News — New York Times: 2024-25 Fellows Announced, new early career fellowship class at the New York Times includes Investigations Lab alumni Devon Lum (Visual Investigations

February 23, 2024

HRC and U.N. Human Rights launch Berkeley Protocol

Berkeley Human Rights Center and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights co-launch global guidelines on investigating human rights violations online On February 13, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk