As more of daily life is moved to digital platforms, human rights protections and investigations must follow suit.

Lead largely by the efforts of Assistant Director Jess Peake, we are helping sound the alarm on dangerous uses of technology and training the next generation of human rights lawyers to use cutting-edge digital techniques to protect human rights — wherever the violations may occur.

Indigenous Land Defenders of Brazil: In Memoriam (2019-2022)

Our November 2023 report looks at the deaths of thirteen Indigenous leaders along with emerging regions of risk in Brazil, and is unique in the way that it maps the threat Indigenous land defenders face as they stand up to extractivists.

Promise Institute Assistant Director and head of our Digital Investigations Lab, Prof. Jess Peake noted “The report is a powerful advocacy tool which highlights a small fraction of the deaths of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, many of which remain otherwise invisible to outside communities.”

Learn More about the Defenders and the Report

Online Disinformation and the 2022 US Midterm Elections

Starting last fall, student researchers in the Human Rights Digital Investigations Labs under the direction of Jess Peake at the Promise Institute for Human Rights and Sylvanna Falcón at the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas at UC Santa Cruz, part of the University of California Digital Investigations Network, launched an independent online investigation to monitor voter suppression, intimidation and disinformation narratives during the 2022 U.S. midterm elections. 

This research culminated in three reports. What the students found was unsettling.

The first report, Disinformation & Decentralization, examines how viral videos helped spread election denialism in Arizona’s 2022 Midterm.

Explore: Disinformation & Decentralization

The second report details the process and open-source tools and techniques the team utilized to document and investigate disinformation narratives during the research, which may serve as a model for future election monitoring.

Read: UC Student Research Team Monitors the 2022 Midterm Elections for Voter Suppression and Misinformation

The third report provides the most comprehensive, aggregated list of all election skeptics and deniers elected throughout the U.S. in the 2022 midterms. This will provide a useful research tool for those wanting to understand how far conspiracy theories have infiltrated elected offices.

Read: Summary List of Election Deniers and Skeptics Elected to Office During the 2022 U.S. Midterms

Open-Source Digital Investigations Lab

Race and Technology

Former UN Special Rapporteur and core Promise faculty member, E. Tendayi Achiume, has generated a number of reports to the United Nations identifying the ways technology and racism are interacting to the detriment of human rights, and how racially-biased tech at borders is infringing on the rights of those migrating.

Read our report on Human Rights, Racial Equality and New Information Technologies Explore the range of reports and fact sheets in our Race & Human Rights Reimagined Initiative

Cyberwarfare and International Law

Recognizing the rising severity and threat of cyberattacks, the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations gathered a council of leading international jurists to examine what accountability for cyber-based attacks might look like. 

We joined the Council of Advisers, to detail how the existing Rome Statute applies to cyberattacks and cyberwarfare.

Read the Report on Prosecuting Cyberwarfare

Global Digital Rights Challenges

We partnered with our friends at UCLA Law’s Institute for Technology, Law and Policy on a speaker series examining the challenges tech is posing to human rights worldwide. The series offers a thought-provoking listen, discussing freedom of speech, facial recognition, content moderation and the impact of internet shutdowns on education, medical care and the economy.