Today, The Associated Press and the PBS investigative documentary series Frontline announced the launch of "War Crimes Watch Ukraine," a major reporting effort to gather, verify and comprehensively catalog evidence of potential war crimes committed during one of the largest conflicts in Europe since the end of World War II.
The "War Crimes Watch Ukraine" digital tracker documents visual evidence of apparent targeted attacks on civilian buildings and infrastructure — including on hospitals, schools and residential areas — and tracks other violations of international humanitarian law.
The co-published database is interactive, allowing readers to explore incidents by date, city, type of target, and whether civilians or children were killed in an attack.
The visual evidence is gathered from video, photographs, audio, eyewitness accounts, news stories and official documents citing evidence of war crimes. The sources include AP’s journalists on the ground, other news organizations, social media posts, international human rights organizations — particularly the London-based Center for Information Resilience — the Ukrainian military and government, and local non-governmental organizations.
For incidents not witnessed by AP journalists, a team of reporters works to verify the events using a variety of web tools, geolocating images posted on social media, comparing them to earlier photographs or satellite imagery, and confirming their veracity. The reporters seek out corroborating social media posts and published witness accounts, and interview additional witnesses to the events, in addition to looking for official confirmation of attacks from organizations such as the United Nations.
Events are only added to the "War Crimes Watch Ukraine" database after they are independently confirmed. AP and Frontline also consulted with experts in international war crimes law to understand what separates a violation of international law from wartime collateral damage.
"War Crimes Watch Ukraine" is part of a larger editorial collaboration between AP and Frontline examining the war in Ukraine. It also includes co-published stories that paint the broader picture of Russia’s action in the region, short-form digital videos, and a documentary slated to air on PBS and begin streaming in fall 2022.
“As we watch the devastation in Ukraine worsen by the day, accessible investigative journalism on the crisis is a critical public service,” said Raney Aronson-Rath, executive producer of Frontline. “We are proud to collaborate with The Associated Press, an organization that shares our commitment to exposing the atrocities of this war, and to deliver navigable, multiplatform investigative reporting that preserves this moment in history.”
“Accountability journalism is one of the most important things we do as news organizations,” said Brian Carovillano, AP vice president and head of news investigations, enterprise, grants and partnerships. “By tracking and verifying these incidents in real time as they occur, AP and Frontline are creating a historical record that will help ensure crimes don’t get lost in the fog of war.”
AP and Frontline will update "War Crimes Watch Ukraine" on an ongoing basis as the war in Ukraine continues. Explore the latest reporting from "War Crimes Watch Ukraine" here.