In the framework of ShareIT, the Tech for Good programme from Station F in Paris, InTech and EBRC provide their support to the “We Are NOT Weapons of War” project. The project aims at using digital to fight sexual violence perpetrated during armed conflicts. A secure digital platform is intended to be implemented for the report collection of such despicable acts with the objective of helping victims and conducting investigations in the framework of legal proceedings with the ultimate aim of obtaining a judicial remedy.
(Featured Image: Céline Bardet, founder of WWoW, We Are NOT Weapons of War, NGO / Image Credit © WWoW)
Céline Bardet is a legal expert and international investigator specialised in war crimes. In 2014, she founded the We Are Not Weapons of War (WWoW) NGO. She spends a large part of her life in conflict areas, often far removed from the world of technology. “I go out into the field, to meet victims, in particular for the purpose of collecting information that may help prosecute violence and crimes perpetrated against populations”, she explained. For the past several years, she has been mainly working on sexual violence perpetrated in the context of conflicts. “As regards these crimes, we face several problems. First of all, the victims are often supervised by armed groups, enjoying very little freedom of movement, to the point of being unable to visit a doctor. Following these acts of violence, physical and psychological traumas, there is also a risk of being stigmatised within the community, of a feeling of shame, which prevents the victims from speaking out”, she said. WWoW’s action is aimed at providing education and information about rape as a weapon of war in conflicts, at providing guidance to local institutions throughout the judicial process, to provide support to victims by working on the trauma and their rehabilitation.
“Contrary to the ideas conveyed in Europe, the people in the countries concerned by these aggressions are connected through tablets, smart phones and 3G connectivity.”
Technology to help victims
“The situation of the victims, the impossibility for them to move around freely, makes it difficult to report these despicable acts and, ultimately, to prosecute those responsible before an international court”, said Céline Bardet. The legal expert and social entrepreneur wants to remedy this situation in particular by using digital technologies. WWoW has joined the ShareIT incubator in Paris, based on the idea that digital could be used to serve this humanitarian cause. “Contrary to the ideas conveyed in Europe, the people in the countries concerned by these aggressions are connected through tablets, smart phones and 3G connectivity. In my view, there was a mean of using the technology to collect reports of these acts and securing the information, and therefore better help the victims”, she explained.
A platform for reporting problems
In the context of ShareIT, in collaboration with InTech and EBRC, partners of the programme, WWoW designed a new application. “The goal is to provide the persons concerned by such acts, i.e. the victims themselves or eyewitnesses, with an adequate tool”, specified Céline Bardet. The objective is to make the tool available to the victims, giving them the choice as to whether or not to make a report, ensuring that they are protected. For each report, we receive an alert in Paris, where we collect the information which is neither stored nor visible on the victims’ phone, and we can then implement procedures to help them.” The idea is to have a global solution with a local impact. For each report, local stakeholders can be mobilised, such as the closest doctor, to help the victims insofar as they so desire. Beyond that, consolidating reports and information makes it possible to mount cases that can be defended in court.
“The solution uses recent technologies, and blockchain technology in particular, to guarantee the integrity of the reports and documents transferred.”
A significant security challenge
WWoW relied on the expertise of InTech and EBRC to create this platform. The two Luxembourg-based companies jointly developed the solution resolving WWoW specific needs.
“There is a significant challenge in the area of security. Eyewitnesses and victims must be able to make reports in a secure way. Therefore the interface was designed to be easy to use and not leave any traces on telephones. It can be used to report sexual violence, provide crucial information and transfer documents related to the situation, such as photographs of injuries, for instance”, explained Fabrice Croiseaux, CEO of InTech. It is also important to ensure that the transferred documents cannot be intercepted by other parties involved. “The solution uses recent technologies, and blockchain technology in particular, to guarantee the integrity of the reports and documents transferred.”
Ensuring the protection of critical information
The platform is hosted in EBRC’s Data Centres in Luxembourg, a European stakeholder specialised in the management of sensitive information. Its expertise ensures the protection of the transferred data and the integrity of the received documents, to warrant that they are admissible in court, should the proceedings even take place several years after the events.
“Our mission has always been to generate confidence in digital services, in particular by developing expertise in the management and protection of sensitive data, by ensuring the security and availability of the service”, said Yves Reding, CEO of EBRC.“In this case, this is extremely critical data on which lives of people in dangerous situations around the world depend. In addition, the hope of a remedy for the victims, which resonates directly with one of our core values, namely resilience, is also directly linked to preserving that information.”
EBRC, partner of ShareIT and the “We Are not Weapons of War” project, was a co-awardee of the “Ethical” prize handed out at the 2018 Trophées de la Transformation Numérique Awards in Paris.
Through ShareIT and the project developed for WWoW, InTech and EBRC demonstrated that digital can be used to innovate and respond to the human challenges of our societies. “This project provides evidence that the ecosystem of digital stakeholders gathered around ShareIT, including the two Luxembourg-based stakeholders that are our respective companies, can use technology to offer real added value to efforts aimed at supporting a crucial global cause”, concluded Yves Reding.