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Martus Human Rights Abuse Reporting Software

The Martus - Human Rights Bulletin System software (available for download, compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux) was designed to allow an entry-level computer user in a human rights group to be able to effectively and securely collect testimonies with 15 - 30 minutes of training.

Martus in Use: A Typical scenario
Users are introduced to Martus independently or at a regional training.  After hearing an overview of the software, watching a demonstration and then completing a hands-on demo with the trainer’s assistance, users are given a Martus CD with server information printed on an accompanying piece of paper. Alternatively, users are made aware of Martus through other collaborative channels, navigate themselves through the online demo and download the Martus software and accompanying documentation. Instructions on how to identify a Martus Server are available on the Martus web site.

Users install the software on a PC that has some form of Internet access.  They open the Martus software, which looks and operates like a simplified version of an email client (like Outlook Express or Eudora) for maximum ease of use. When users wish to store information about an incident or abuse, they create a bulletin which, by default, is kept secret and available only to the group collecting the data. The Martus software automatically records information in the bulletin such as the group creating it and the date created (similar to email). The user then types in a subject,  keywords,  the date of the incident, a short summary (for search purposes) and a more extended description, and then saves it as either a draft or a final bulletin.

Once that happens, the next time the PC is connected to the Internet,  the bulletins are copied to a designated Martus Server and then backed up elsewhere.  The server operators know who is posting the data, but the data itself is encrypted and totally confidential. After a bulletin has been designated as final by the user, it cannot be altered, ensuring that even an unauthorized user who may have obtained access cannot delete the group’s records.  If the user reports that their security has been compromised (e.g., their PC is confiscated or their password is stolen), the account is closed.  Once the group verifies the user’s identity and creates a new account, he or she can download all the data back from the server.

Martus also allows human rights reporters to share their data on a read-only basis with selected third parties, such as a national headquarters that oversees a regional office or international human rights groups.