Martus supports global rights and social justice organizations by applying efficient, effective technology to the documentation and reporting of human rights abuses.
Martus is a secure software application designed to gather, organize and back up human rights information. Launched in 2003, Martus is a free and open source technology tool that supports effective collaboration within social justice organizations. Martus is the Greek word for witness.
Here is the challenge: Human rights and social justice groups throughout the world gather and collect large amounts of data, yet these organizations often lack the resources to document human rights violations systematically and securely. Much of their information is stored in insecure formats that prevent it from being effectively shared; worse, critical documentation is often lost to viruses, computer theft, fire, neglect and staff turnover.
Lost information is a problem with far-reaching implications. Social justice organizations know that timely, accurate data distribution is one of their most powerful weapons against human rights violations. NGOs gather information to draw attention to the circumstances of victims, pressure perpetrators and encourage judicial accountability. They also use field data to focus media attention and help deliver justice in the form of truth commissions and tribunals. Without the collection and use of such information, human rights campaigns have limited chance of success.
Martus relies on existing infrastructure and the support of our partners. Martus uses available technology to support human rights. Benetech built the Martus information management system to run as client software that sits on your local computer. The Internet lets Martus users connect to off-site servers to back up data and download new releases.
The Martus Team works with grassroots NGOs around the world to offer outreach, training and support. Since Martus is based on open source technology, each improvement to the software benefits all users who can download the latest release for free. Our partners and programmers in the open source community are welcome to examine the Martus software code to ensure trust and transparency.
Martus is not an activist organization or an urgent action network. It is a software tool that addresses the specific technological needs of the human rights community
The Martus system:
- Uses strong, built-in encryption to safeguard data
- Permits searchable text-based bulletins about human rights violations to be created easily and quickly
- Securely backs up human rights information and replicates it in multiple locations to protect against loss
- Allows users to create folders and attach additional documents or other data to the bulletins
- Is free software and open source, encouraging easy code review to foster an atmosphere of transparency, trust and collaboration
- Provides grassroots groups with power over their own information, allowing them to decide what to make public and what should be kept securely private
- While the Martus Team administers a series of secure servers around the world, Martus users can choose to back their data up to a server of their choice. We cannot view the data which sits on the servers we administer.
- Offers consumers of human rights information access to the non-confidential portions of bulletins, allowing activists, prosecutors, press and the public to read the direct accounts of those affected by human rights violations
By employing a 'train the trainers' method of instruction, the community of Martus users grows each year and the reliance on professional outreach by Martus staff decreases. As records of human rights abuses are preserved and protected, social justice groups worldwide can bring greater attention to rights violations, assist in the prosecution of perpetrators and discourage further abuses.http://www.martus.org/concept/