Investigations are the backbone of our work. With good investigation we can build a sound case to litigate. We investigate for two reasons: firstly, to look for cases of systemic human rights violations, and second, to collect and preserve evidence for action.
Credible, authentic and reliable evidence are the bedrock of a successful public interest action. During investigation, we seek out leads to evidence by interviewing survivors, their communities and organisations working in the field. We then develop those leads to build a pool of evidence that we can work with.
We store all evidence in a secure database. We follow strict security and data-sharing protocols to ensure that we do not compromise the security of survivors and witnesses. We redact personal information and only share information that is required.
As a key part of our approach is to empower communities to take collective action, sometimes, we work with our communities and build their expertise to document violations which are ongoing using basic investigative techniques.
Once we have secured and archived our evidence, we catalogue each evidence for analysis. Our cataloging methods are based on international legal standards and best practices. Each document is labelled by its source origins and catalogued according to crime, geography, and identifiable actors and institutions. By doing so, all correlating evidence can be extracted at once. This is how we establish a pattern of a violations and prove its "systemic" nature.
The eventual goal of our investigations is to get justice for survivors and hold responsible persons and offices accountable. Not all investigations will summit to this. In Afghanistan, some cases are too dangerous to pursue. In that event, we will evaluate other ways we can use the evidence to support broader social and legal change or even obtain an out-of-court settlement for survivors.
In every case, we ask ourselves: If plan A fails us, how can we set our work up for success in other ways? How can we meet the interests and needs of our clients and prevent the recurrence of similar violations in the future? How can we inspire a larger movement and spur political will?
We believe that when survivors testify, when they speak their truths and share their stories, it is also a way of acknowledging and memorialising their suffering.