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  • Yvonne McDermott Rees

Launch of “Evaluating digital open source imagery: A guide for judges and fact-finders” at the Inner Temple in London

On 24 May 2024, we hosted a launch event for the release of the guide Evaluating digital open source imagery: A guide for judges and fact-finders. The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in the heart of London kindly opened its doors to the guests, which included judges, lawyers, investigators, and academics.  

Yvonne, co-author of the guide, opened the event with a brief review of the origin of the guide, which was prepared after a workshop hosted by the Centre for Fundamental Rights at the Hertie School in Berlin in June 2022, and funded by the Digital Verification Unit at the University of Essex.  

Co-author of the guide, Dr. Daragh Murray – Senior Lecturer at the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London – elaborated on the challenges fact-finders and judges might face when dealing with digital open source evidence, and how the guide can assist judges and other decision makers in their assessment of open source photographs and videos.  

Distinguished speakers included Her Excellency Judge Joanna Korner, judge of the International Criminal Court, and Lord Justice Birss, judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales and Deputy Head of Civil Justice, who both stressed the importance of the guide for judges both at domestic and international courts. Her Excellency Judge Joanna Korner recounted her experience participating in an earlier Mock Admissibility Hearing related to the TRUE project, and Lord Justice Birss addressed the increasing prevalence of manipulated content, and the fears that it becomes easier to dismiss authentic evidence as fake (the so-called ‘liar’s dividend’).  

The event concluded with drinks and canapés, giving the guests the opportunity to network and discuss their own experiences working with digital open source information and user-generated evidence. 

About the guide 

The guide is organized around a number of key issues that a court or fact-finding body may need to address in their evaluation of open source information, including determining the authenticity of the digital image, and analyzing relevant metadata, source, location, and time information.  

It was co-authored by experts from: WITNESS; Open Society Justice Initiative; Swansea University; Queen Mary University of London; Mnemonic; Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley; Human Rights Centre, University of Essex; Hertie School, and the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford. It is available on the TRUE project website in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Ukrainian):  

Translation and production was funded by Swansea University’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and the TRUE project, funded by UKRI Frontier Research Grant EP/X016021/1. The work was also kindly supported by the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (IHSS) at Queen Mary University of London; the Centre for Funda­mental Rights at the Hertie School, Berlin, and the Digital Verification Unit at the University of Essex. 



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