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For Immediate Release

PHR Wins 2013 Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with Mobile App

Cambridge, MA - 02/13/2013

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PHR has received first prize for its mobile forensic application, MediCapt, in the 2013 USAID-Humanity United Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention competition.

The Tech Challenge emerged from President Obama’s Genocide Prevention Initiative, launched in April 2012, when he pledged to support creative 21st century solutions to prevent mass atrocities. The competition was hosted by InnoCentive, the award-winning open innovation, crowd-sourcing technology company.

PHR won in the “Safe Documentation” category for its creation of a tool for clinicians that combines mobile survey instruments for medical reporting with a secure mobile camera platform for photographic evidence collection. The app will help preserve forensic evidence of mass atrocities, including sexual violence and torture that can be used in courts. Health care providers will be able to use the app to compile medical evidence, photograph survivors’ injuries, and securely transmit the data to authorities engaged in prosecuting and otherwise seeking accountability for such crimes.

“We are grateful for the vision of the White House, Humanity United, and USAID in encouraging innovation by those of us working with first responders to horrific crimes,” said PHR Executive Director Donna McKay. “I’m so proud of PHR’s Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones team that developed this mobile app in collaboration with our technology partners.” 

PHR developed the new product with DataDyne, using its Magpi platform, and InformaCam, a joint endeavor of WITNESS, The Guardian Project, and the International Bar Association.

“I have seen how difficult it is for doctors and nurses to provide medical care for survivors while also trying to meticulously document their injuries,” said Karen Naimer, director of PHR’s Program on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones. “I expect MediCapt will enable health professionals to gather the medical data needed so that their legal counterparts can manage the entire evidentiary chain more effectively.”

“We anticipate that the international recognition that MediCapt receives from this award will result eventually in the widespread adoption of this new technology to help end impunity for mass atrocities,” said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy and partnerships at PHR, who developed the early concept of the instrument.

In addition to PHR staff, the product team includes PHR consultants Dr. Coleen Kivlahan, senior director, Health Systems Innovation and Policy, Association of American Medical Colleges; Dr. Ranit Mishori, associate professor and director of Global Health Initiatives, Georgetown University School of Medicine; Caitlin Howarth, human security and technology consultant; Dr. Joel Selanikio, CEO, DataDyne Group LLC; and Bryan Nunez, technology manager, WITNESS.

The Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention is a partnership between USAID and Humanity United. Read more about the winners and the Tech Challenge.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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