Vera & Donald Blinken Open Society Archives
Martus: The Tool for Human Rights Activists
OSA provides accounts for the Martus Server to human rights activists and organizations. Martus Human Rights Bulletin System is a free, open source tool designed to facilitate collecting, protecting, organizing and disseminating information about human rights abuses. Martus is the Greek word for witness.
The Martus software can be downloaded free from Sourceforge.
Martus enables grassroots NGOs and activists to securely store their records on remote servers, preserving crucial evidence for research, investigation and prosecutions. The stored records, by default, are kept secret and available only to their owner. However, users can choose to make selected records public.
The Martus software was designed in consultation with human rights groups, that is why its key features are:
- Simple (as easy to use as email, can run on an inexpensive computer and does not require a constant connection to the Internet.
- Secure (records are encrypted, stored at a remote server, backed up to multiple locations, protected by a unique password).
- Searchable (specific events and identifying details can be searched by groups or outside researchers granted access to the records).
Martus Software and Documentation are currently available in 8 lanauges, including Spanish, Russian, French, Thai, Arabic, Nepali and Burmese.
Martus is used to support initiatives that monitor human rights, political rights and acts of violence, human trafficking, environmental destruction and hate crimes. Applications of Martus include collecting information about political prisoners and the reporting of human rights abuses based on ethnicity or religious faith. Martus is also used by human rights workers, attorneys, journalists and others who need to secure their information from eavesdropping, theft or equipment failure.
Martus software is sufficiently flexible to accommodate a broad range of information and can be customized for specific purposes. Some organizations also use Analyzer, a software program developed by the Human Rights Data Analysis Group to organize information collected with Martus for statistical analysis.