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Department of Sociology


With the help of researchers at the University of Cambridge, Amnesty has launched an interactive website documenting security forces’ misuse of tear gas in 22 countries around the world.

Tear Gas: An investigation is the organisation’s new interactive, multimedia microsite explaining global use of tear gas, how it is used and documenting scores of cases of its misuse by security forces worldwide, often resulting in severe injuries or death.

“Security forces often lead us to believe tear gas is a ‘safe’ way to disperse violent crowds, avoiding having to resort to more harmful weaponry. But our analysis proves that police forces are misusing it on a massive scale,” said Sam Dubberley, Head of the Evidence Lab on Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Programme. 

The investigation has been contributed to by University of Cambridge Digital Verification Corps (DVC), which is based at the Centre of Governance & Human Rights (CGHR), and has been working with Amnesty International since 2016. The Corps consists of an interdisciplinary group of both graduate and undergraduate students with a range of language skills and expertise.  Matt Mahmoudi, Rebekah Lyndon and Ray Adams Row Farr are the Student Leads for Cambridge's DVC, and Dr Ella McPherson is Faculty Lead. 

Students within the DVC are trained to use open source investigation techniques to verify evidence of alleged human rights violations, and are partnered with teams from UC Berkeley, the University of Essex, the University of Hong Kong, the University of Pretoria and the University of Toronto.

Last year, this partnership was named International Collaboration of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards, specifically its work verifying claims that the US-led Coalition engaged in indiscriminate bombing of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The project led to the most comprehensive investigation into civilian deaths in modern conflict. More than 1,600 victims were credibly identified – about 10 times more than the number that the US-led coalition had accepted responsibility for.

About Amnesty DVC

As an increasing amount of social media data on human rights crimes and atrocities is made available online, it becomes crucial to improve and speed up the process through which human rights fact-finders gather, verify and present evidence. To this end, Amnesty has launched a global network of digital volunteers known as the Digital Verification Corps (DVC) in partnership with six Universities. With the help of digital verification tools and training from Amnesty, the DVCs work to advance human rights by fact-checking and verifying footage from sites of atrocity crime investigations.

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