Documenting human rights abuses

Ushahidi.com is a website that was used to monitor and document violence after riots broke out in Kenya in 2007. Ushahidi, which means 'testimony' in Swahili, was created as a platform for 'crowdsourcing', that is, to transfer the task of reporting human rights' abuses on to the largest number of people possible. Violent incidents were reported by site subscribers via SMS, e-mail, or directly on the web. These reports were then used to visualize the data on a map or timeline.

In Kenia, the riots erupted across the country after the unpopular sitting president Mwai Kibaki was sworn into power following an election in December 2007 that was widely seen as rigged.

Anyone can report incidents of violence that they have witnessed by sending an SMS to a short code messaging service number. This is then verified by a local NGO and presented on a map of Kenya. Various categories of abuse such as incidents of riots, looting, deaths, property loss, rape etc. are monitored and documented.

The Ushahidi platform has been used also, since early Summer of 2008, to document xenophobic violence in Southern Africa, mainly against migrant workers.