Klaus Rackwitz and Navi Pillay participated in the online event ‘Nuremberg at 75: Launching the “Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations” and Outlining the Future of Visual Evidence in International Accountability’


Director Klaus Rackwitz, the President of the Advisory Council of the Nuremberg Academy, Dr. Navi Pillay, and its Vice President, Professor Christoph Safferling, participated in an online event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first use of film as evidence in an international trial and discussing the present and the future of film and digital evidence in trials of core international crimes on 1 December. The Mayor of the city of Nuremberg, Marcus König, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, delivered the opening statements. Two panels addressed the past, present and future of visual imagery and digital information as well as their impact and relevance in ensuring accountability for core international crimes. Almost 400 online attendees followed the event.

In the first panel, Dr. Navi Pillay reflected on the historic use of new technologies to strengthen justice. She highlighted the importance of imagery, particularly in authoritarian regimes like the Apartheid regime in South Africa. “Without the films from the media and bystanders, the world would not have woken up to police brutality,” she stated. Professor Christoph Safferling described the influence of the Nuremberg Trials from the perspective of legal history.

The second panel discussed the present and the future of visual and, increasingly important, digital evidence, particularly evidence stemming from open sources like social media. The ‘Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations’ was launched and introduced to the public. This ground-breaking protocol aims to establish professional standards for the identification, collection and preservation of digital open source evidence for justice and accountability purposes. The panellists gave examples of visual evidence used in trials, inter alia before the International Criminal Court, and of video footage of atrocities committed in Venezuela. Klaus Rackwitz emphasized the need to further broaden the use of digital evidence, to continue research and to amend practices and rules of procedure in trials on core international crimes.

The event closed with concluding remarks delivered by Dr. Rainer Huhle, Director of the Nuremberg Human Rights Centre.

You can download the Berkeley Protocol here.