Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

SITU Research Launches SPEA Project

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Image courtesy of SITU Research and Forensic Architecture.

SITU Research is pleased to announce the launch of Spatial Practice as Evidence and Advocacy (SPEA) – a project that will utilize spatial analysis and visualization in the service of human rights fact-finding and reporting. Mobilizing innovative applications of existing and emerging technologies, a primary goal of SPEA is to broaden the “tool kit” and culture of human rights work to include design as an integral component of legal and advocacy initiatives.

Made possible in part by the generous support of the John D. and  Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Oak Foundation, SPEA will undertake applied casework with human rights organizations, news outlets, legal counsel, scientists, and researchers to generate reports targeted at synthesizing diverse forms of evidence into precise, coherent and compelling spatial narratives. Further, the SPEA project seeks not only to represent consequential data in the most effective way, but also to extend the impact of these often technical and prosaic findings through public-facing, interactive reports.

As a cross-disciplinary project, SPEA has a unique opportunity to bridge the gaps that traditionally separate and segment the fields of human rights and design. SPEA will build upon the long-form textual structure of traditional human rights reporting with the integration of spatio- visual content that can enrich the analysis of specific human rights violations. Work will focus on the collection and synthesis of disparate forms of evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, that may be gathered in a specific case (e.g., satellite imagery, video footage, the verbatim testimony of witnesses, munitions specifications, etc.) Over the next 22 months, SPEA will collaborate on a series of reports that will be made available to the public. Examples of other human rights cases that SITU Research has worked on can be found here.

SITU Research joins panel discussion about US drone debate at Studio-X

This past Thursday, SITU Research participated in a panel discussion titled “Landscapes of Secrecy: Data and Reporting in the Drone Debate”, hosted by Columbia University GSAPP’s Studio-X New York and Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone, and moderated by Arthur Holland Michel from Bard’s Center for the Study of the Drone.

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Brad Samuels, Partner at SITU Research, Naureen Shah, Legislative Counsel at the ACLU, and data artist and web developer Josh Begley talked about the gathering and reconstruction of data regarding US drone strikes in the context of their practices. All three panelists stressed how important it is for the law makers’ and the general public’s understanding of the nature and extent of U.S. targeted killing operations to not only gather reliable data on civilian deaths by drone strikes, but also to disseminate this data in an accessible format.

SITU Research shared a recently launched interactive website presented as part of UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s drone inquiry, detailing 30 drone strikes in five different countries.

A screenshot of the web-based platform that maps - and collects information and media relevant to - each of the thirty strikes the UN Special Rapporteur has called for further investigation of. © Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research, 2014.

A screenshot of the UN SRCT Drone Inquiry website
© Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research, 2014.

Naureen Shah highlighted how personal narratives in Amnesty International USA reports on drone strikes impact the broader public, and described how detailed on-the-ground accounts and in-depth interviews help to put a human face on the statistics.

Data artist Josh Begley’s intervention is an app that disrupts its users’ daily routine by sending push notifications directly to the mobile device in their pocket whenever a drone attack happens. These real-time alerts for every reported United States drone strike can also be added to an application programming interface (API) – a collection of building blocks for software development that allows anyone with basic coding skills to organize, analyze and visualize drone strike data dating back to 2002.

Josh Bogley’s Metadata+ app sends real-time alerts for every reported United States drone strike to its users.

Josh Bogley’s Metadata+ app sends real-time alerts for
every reported United States drone strike to its users.

This event was the second in the Studio-X Global series on Security Regimes, which examines global spaces of exception, from supermax prisons to territories where mass surveillance or lethal targeting are allowed in the name of security. The series will be followed by a collaborative publication by Studio-X, the Center for the Study of the Drone, the New Institute and dpr-barcelona.

SITU Research participates in FORENSIS exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.

Operating within the frame of the Forensic Architecture project, work produced by SITU Research will be presented at the upcoming exhibition and conference FORENSIS at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.

The FORENSIS brief states:
The exhibition will explore the procedures, tools, and spatial arrangements used in forensics, as well as the potential of a new aesthetic-political practice. FORENSIS seeks to invert the direction of the forensic gaze and designate the emergence of new aesthetic-political practices by which individuals and independent organizations use new technologies, aesthetic practices, and architectural methodologies to bear upon a range of issues from political struggle to violent conflict and climate change.

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Image from the 3D virtual model reconstruction of the scene at the moment of the shooting of Bassem Abu Rahma | © Forensic Architecture and SITU Research.

Working in close collaboration with the team at Forensic Architecture, SITU Research’s role has been to provide spatial analyses and visualizations pertaining to inquiries into international human rights violations across a broad array of sites and scales. As part of this work, SITU has worked with Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights (UNSRCT), Human Rights Watch and B’tselem, among others. Investigation subjects include the impact of drone strikes on civilians, the use of indiscriminate munitions in densely populated urban environments and the death of migrants at sea. For more information on these projects and others visit http://situresearch.com/human-rights.

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Image of the reconstruction of a drone strike in Datta Khel, Pakistan that occurred on 17 March 2011
© Forensic Architecture and SITU Research.

In the accompanying conference “The Architecture of Public Truth” on March 15th and 16th, SITU Research will discuss this new territory for designers and architects, and their potential role in politics, science, society, and the environment.

FORENSIS will be on display from March 15th – May 5th, 2014.
The opening reception will take place on March 14th, 6pm.
The “The Architecture of Public Truth” conference will be held on March 15th and 16th.

Work by Forensic Architecture and SITU Research presented as part of UN inquiry into Drone Strikes

Today marks the public launch of a web-based platform created by Forensic Architecture (Goldsmiths, University of London) and SITU Research for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson.

A screenshot of the web-based platform that maps - and collects information and media relevant to - each of the thirty strikes the UN Special Rapporteur has called for further investigation of. © Forensic Architecture in collaboration with SITU Research, 2014.

The website provides an online presence for the Special Rapporteur’s inquiry into civilian casualties by drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza. The report calls for increased government transparency and documentation of drone strikes when civilian casualties are known or suspected.

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The web-based platform focuses on the 30 drone strikes that are included in the Special Rapporteur’s report. The strikes are  geospatially located and are correlated with additional information provided by Emmerson’s report. Forensic Architecture’s work also analyzes several strikes in greater detail by synthesizing multiple sources of data including photographs, interviews, and satellite imagery and the resultant spatial analyses are shown through short videos.

The online platform can be accessed here.

A short demonstration video of the platform can be found here.

The videos and stills detailing the four cases can be viewed here.

New Evidence Released in the Left-to-Die Boat Case

In a follow up to the Left-to-Die Boat report that Situ worked on last year with collaborators Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani (part of Forensic Architecture – a project funded by the European Research Council) that focused on the reconstruction of the events that lead to the death of 63 migrants in March/April 2011, a press conference was held today to present new evidence and announce a new legal cases that are finally being brought to court in Spain and France. After the Paris Prosecutor’s Office ignored initial complaints in April of 2012, two survivors filed the case as civil parties, forcing open a judicial investigation as to why French and Spanish military ships criminally neglected a vessel in distress, ultimately resulting in the unnecessary deaths of 63 people at sea.

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The above image shows new Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data describing ships over 50 meters in length on the morning of April 4th 2011. Highlighted area indicates migrant vessel’s range of locations on that day. Below is the addendum itself that was released at today’s press conference in Paris held by International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

 

Experts Report Life to Die Boat

At the press conference, Lorenzo Pezzani describes the inclusion of the new vessel detection data that is has been incorporated to strengthen the report’s spatio-temporal reconstruction of the events analyzed in the report. His description can be viewed at 30:00 of the below video.


Video streaming by Ustream

The addition of new SAR (synthetic aperture radar) data from the morning of April 4th 2011, the crucial time when a military ship is thought to have crossed within 10 meters the migrant vessel (see image at top of page), has been instrumental in gaining further insight into the provenience of the military ship the survivors recall encountering. While this new data narrows down the possibilites, the question remains – which ships were present in the area, informed of the vessel’s distress and failed to respond? Read FIDH’s most recent coverage of the report here.

 

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