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Centre of Governance & Human Rights (CGHR)


Amnesty International’s online multimedia project, Tear Gas: An Investigation, won a prestigious 2021 Webby Award for the best activism website worldwide.

Described by The New York Times as ‘the internet’s highest honour’, this award represents the culmination of a year-long project built upon research conducted by six student-run Digital Verification Corps, including the DVC at Cambridge’s Centre of Governance and Human Rights.

Our DVC worked collaboratively with its global network to compile and verify over 500 pieces of online content showing the indiscriminate and dangerous use of tear gas by state agents across 31 countries.

As a team conducting open-source investigation, the DVC’s role is to collect and analyse content relevant to a particular project. In this instance, we were tasked with collecting footage from social media platforms that seemed to document misuses of tear gas. This included any authoritative body such as the military or the police using tear gas in an enclosed space, against peaceful protesters or as direct fire against protesters – and thus constituting a human rights violation.

Once a range of footage had been collected, our role was to analyse the veracity of a given piece of content by determining the location, date and time of the event with the aid of video analysis tools, satellite maps and chronolocation software. We worked on protests occurring in a wide range of countries, including Haiti, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Peru, Poland, Tunisia and Uganda. Amnesty International then mapped the footage we verified on their innovative and interactive Tear Gas platform.

This success would not have been possible without the fantastic Cambridge DVC team and, in particular, the leadership of our outgoing coordinators Dylan Rogers and Ray Adams Row Farr. We are also grateful for the guidance and support of Mitch Paquette, Sam Dubberley and Ella McPherson. 

By Nik Yazikov and Laetitia Maurat