The Yemen Project: Announcement

Bellingcat and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) today announce the release of the first round of investigations as part of a new project examining the campaign of airstrikes carried out by a Saudi-led coalition, including the United States, in Yemen since 2015. Over the next five weeks, approximately 20 in-depth investigations into the airstrikes will be released on a weekly basis, accompanied by a searchable archive of verified open-source material used in each report.

Starting on April 22, Bellingcat will be releasing one investigation per day for a week. On the April 29, Bellingcat will be launching, which will host these investigations and data as a stand-alone website. After this Bellingcat will continue to add investigations and data on a weekly basis.

In early 2019 investigators from across all disciplines came together in a hackathon to conduct investigations as part of this project.

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins said, “Over the last several years Bellingcat has led the way in developing the use of online open source investigation. With this new project, we take it to the next level, taking everything we’ve learned and, with the help of GLAN, turning it into a groundbreaking process for archiving and investigation.”
This project employs Bellingcat’s innovative archiving and investigation process, developed from years of work on open-source analytical and fact-finding journalism. What makes this initiative unique is how GLAN has ensured that legal principles inform the evidence gathering process so that all information can support legal efforts around justice and accountability. The investigation process is also supported by expert input from, the Syrian Archive and other groups.
While bringing to light critical details about one of the most under-reported conflicts in modern history, the project is focused on producing verified material viable for court cases, aiding advocacy groups with reliable information about the conflict, and working with other media organizations that wish to cover the engagement.
GLAN’s Legal Officer Dearbhla Minogue said, “Online open source investigation is an emerging area that judges may not be familiar with, leading to a risk that online investigations could be treated with scepticism. Our legal team analysed the relevant evidentiary principles and identified some minimum standards that investigators working on this project could adhere to, so that the outcomes could be of assistance to litigators.”

GLAN’s Director, Dr Gearóid Ó Cuinn added, “We see this partnership with Bellingcat as a powerful way to push the boundaries on legal evidence. We have already been able to contradict the statements and investigations of the Saudi-led Coalition. This should raise serious concerns for arms suppliers who are relying on such mechanisms to satisfy themselves that the Coalition is not violating international law.”

This is a multiyear project, aimed at documenting as many incidents as possible from the conflict in Yemen. In the process it builds Bellingcat and GLAN’s capacity to refine investigation and archiving processes, to deploy those processes to other topics beyond Yemen, and to share information with other organisations that wish to work in the same way. By developing an infrastructure for documenting and archiving incidents, and training on-the-ground organizations and community members to use it, Bellingcat ensures that investigators of future conflicts will have access to higher-quality information that better supports the work they do to promote the pursuit of accountability, justice and transparency.

Bellingcat’s vision is to hold power to account by inspiring and supporting a global community to conduct high-quality, responsible and transparent investigations anywhere in the world. Employing an “IVA” approach (investigate, verify, amplify), the group pioneers open-source professional and citizen journalism in war zones, human rights abuses, and the criminal underworld. Contributors to Bellingcat make available case studies as well as their investigation techniques. Prior notable cases include publications related to the war in eastern Ukraine, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Fight 17, the Syrian Civil War, the El Junquito raid in Venezuela, and the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

The Global Legal Action Network pursues innovative international legal actions, challenging states and other powerful actors involved with human rights violations. GLAN is committed to the innovative use of law to achieve positive human rights change by developing legal interventions from outside the jurisdictions where individuals and communities suffer injustice. GLAN is a collaboration of legal practitioners, academics, and investigative journalists.