INDEX is an independent forensic expertise laboratory. Through video investigations and 3D reconstructions they probe into cases of State violence in France and beyond. The question of the use of violence by the state is a major source of debate in today’s France. From the working class districts to the city centres where demonstrations take place, images and accounts of police violence are flooding the media landscape.
While the trust of many French citizens in its law enforcement institutions has degraded in the last few years, the government is still turning a blind eye to the problem. The president told the people that the very use of the term “police violence” was “unacceptable”. Many reports point to the declining number of prosecutions faced by law enforcement agents, and new legislation has been passed that keeps expanding police and security powers. Due to the difficulty of establishing responsibility, cases of state violence tend to be promptly dismissed. As for its victims, the procedures to obtain truth and justice all too often end up in deadlock.
This is the context in which INDEX intervenes.
As an independent expertise laboratory, they investigate cases of state violence in order to establish the objective facts. From dynamic 3D modelling to frame-by-frame analysis of collected footage, their investigative methods derive from the possibilities brought about by smartphones and social media. The critical mass of images and data that circulates online today allows for a deep level of citizen scrutiny of events and incidents which, until recently, there was much less visibility available. However, the possibilities offered by new technologies must be met with rigorous methods, in order to tell true from false and to lay down the facts.
The work of the INDEX team members has already clarified the circumstances of three deaths and two serious injuries, all of which have resulted from police operations.
Investigation into Adama Traoré’s death (with Le Monde and Forensic Architecture)
Investigation into Zineb Redouane’s death (with Disclose and Forensic Architecture)
Investigation into Gaye Camara’s death (with Disclose)
Investigation into Adnane Nassih’s mutilation (with Libération)
Investigation into Jean-François Martin’s mutilation (report submitted in court)
Investigation into the aggression of “Moussa” by policemen in Noisy-le-Grand (with Le Média TV).
As truth is everyone’s business they strive to make it public, working alongside investigative media outlets and NGOs. In addition, several of the INDEX reports have been entered into evidence in court, so that they can have a concrete impact on the verdict to come.
INDEX is the only structure in France to offer rigorous and truly independent expertise in cases of state violence. In that respect, they are receiving more and more requests from victims’ families, attorneys, as well as NGOs and media organisations. In order to be able to respond to these calls, they must develop their means of action.
INDEX brings together researchers, architects, journalists, videographers and data modellers. So far, their capacity to work has relied on their members’ commitment to the issue at stake. Now, they need to cover the cost of the regular work of their team and to strengthen their human and technical capacities.
INDEX stems from Forensic Architecture : a research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London which, since its establishment a decade ago, has become a global reference in open source investigation, spatial analysis and digital modeling. Its expertise has been requested by NGOs such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch and by media outlets such as the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel. Forensic Architecture’s investigations on human rights violations have been presented in the United Nations Security Council and in the International Criminal Court. Closely linked to Forensic Architecture through the INDEX team and their methods, continuing this type of investigative work and grounds it in France.
INDEX is a non-profit organisation (“association loi 1901”), established in France in October 2020. It is solely funded by donations from individuals or charitable foundations who wish to support them without conditions or compensations.
It is as members of civil society that they aim to conduct and share this work. In order to ensure their independence, INDEX do not accept government subsidies or corporate donations. For the sake of impartiality, they also do not accept remuneration from the victims’ families when they conduct investigations at their request. So, whether individual or institution, if curbing police brutality and corruption is your jam, get in touch with this innovative justice crew because resources are always needed to keep this type of grassroots justice work afloat.