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Martus Open Source Software and Survey
Kristina Mihalec | 22 June 2005

Susan Bazilli informs WITT about Martus, an open source software tool used for monitoring human rights violations. Request a copy or download it.

Dear WITT,

I am a Canadian international human rights lawyer and have worked globally for the past 20 years on women’s rights. Currently I am Co-Director of the International Women’s Rights Project (www.iwrp.org). Through my work I came across Martus, a free, accessible, open source social justice and human rights monitoring software tool. I asked Jim Fruchterman, the founder of the non-profit technology company, Benetech, the Martus creator, if we could adapt this tool for the kinds of organizations that I work with, on issues of domestic violence, trafficking, sexualized violence, and other areas where women’s and children’s human rights have been violated.

I want to introduce you to Martus [‘witness’ in Greek] and ask you to see if it would be useful for documenting and monitoring women’s human rights violations in your work. Martus was designed in close consultation with social justice experts around the world. To date it has been primarily used to document atrocities and collect secure evidence in armed conflict situations, genocide, and by Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. It has also been adapted by activists in NGOs working on documenting a range of human rights violations. I thought that given that it is free, user friendly, secure, and that training is available, it would be an incredibly useful tool for our sector.

Martus addresses four critical requirements for software protecting information on human rights and social justice violations: usability, security, the ability to search, and transparency. Martus has been helping non-technical users in the social justice sector capture, backup and protect our most valuable asset: specific information about abuses and violations. Martus provides users with control over the decision of which information is kept securely (cryptographically) and which information is publicly and widely disseminated. Once data is stored in Martus locally or in off-site servers, it is much less likely to be lost, preserving crucial evidence for research, investigation, and prosecutions. With violation information preserved and accessible, large-scale patterns of abuse or single incidents can be easily mapped. Multiple testimonies can be gathered. Prosecutions can be reinforced by verified data from a trusted source.

RTF - 52.1 kb
Complete & send the survey by June 1st, 2005.

I know that in my work on violence against women this would be a great tool for us to use. I am helping Martus adapt its present capacity to be able to meet the needs particularly of women’s and children’s human rights groups. If you would be interested, please answer the questions linked to the right. I will then be able to consolidate the answers and make recommendations to Benetech about how we might better use Martus for our work.

In its first year, users from more than 50 countries have downloaded Martus, and it has been deployed, adopted and used regularly by NGOs in over a dozen countries in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The software and related documentation are available for Windows/Mac/Linux in multiple languages, and in addition to in-program help, Martus training sessions are conducted worldwide throughout the year by Martus staff and partners.

You can learn more about Martus by accessing the web site at www.martus.org. Note that Martus is free and open source software that can be downloaded at the site. Some relevant links include:

The Martus brochure and overview documents can be viewed and downloaded (in various formats/languages) at http://www.martus.org/resources/publications.shtml.

Case studies of various projects that have used Martus can be viewed at http://www.martus.org/resources/case_studies.shtml

In the “Products and Services” section of the website, you can find further information about Martus, including a demo at http://www.martus.org/martusdemo/.

The user documentation (in various languages) is available for viewing and download at http://www.martus.org/downloads/.

Benetech would be happy to send you Martus software CDs if you feel you could use them either internally or with your partner organizations. The goal is for Martus to become a standard part of the IT toolkit bag for social justice organizations, ready to be pulled out and used when it meets important needs. If you would like additional information, please feel free to contact myself or Kristen Cibelli [kcibelli@martus.org] at Martus. We look forward to collaborating with you to advance the promotion and protection of human rights and social justice.

Best regards,
Susan Bazilli

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