F.A.Q. Events Standard Formats

What is an Event?

An Event is something that happens, with a beginning and an end, and which progresses until its logical conclusion. It can be a single act, a series of related acts, or a combination of related acts happening together. For an event to be included in human rights monitoring, at least one act that it contains should be qualified as a human rights violation (e.g. arbitrary arrest, which is a violation of the right to liberty), or be akin or similar to such (e.g. legal arrest). The term Act is a single piece of movement or action, usually involving force. Usually, an act is committed by a person (an individual or a group) against another, in which case it is referred to as an act of commission. Act can also mean the non-performance of an expected or required movement or action, in which case it is referred to as an act of omission.

What is a Person?

A Person is an individual or a group who is involved in or related somehow to an event.
What are the roles that a Person can have in an Event?

  • Victim - The Victim is the person (individual or group) who is the object of an act.
  • Source - Source is the person (individual or group) who provides information on the event and/or its elements.
  • Intervening Party - Intervening party is the person (individual or group) who intervenes in an event, such as to aid a victim, or to seek to stop an ongoing violation.
  • Perpetrator - The Perpetrator is the person (individual or group) who commits an act that constitutes a violation. Perpetrators can be state or non-state entities. The means used could be concrete arms such as guns, or more abstract processes such as lawmaking.

What is a field?

A field is where you give in information. It can range from text (like a name) to a date (like the day an act began). OpenEvSys contains multiple fields to completely describe an event in a structured manner, most of which are optional to fill out.

Each standard format is made up of a variable number of fields, in which the data elements are recorded. The various fields can be categorised into three general types according to the kind of data they hold.

  • Fields for factual and descriptive data - These are fields that give the what, who, where, when and how. Examples are personal data of the victim or the description of an event.
  • Fields for analytical data - These are fields used to contain information that is arrived at after some analysis, and thus involves judgement. They are often used to generate statistics to show trends and patterns. For instance, an organisation may want to categorise the types of events it has monitored. The categories used for this field are often context-dependent. Included in this type of fields are fields that denote status. In some cases, such as in the status of victims, the data could be factual (e.g., dead, detained).
  • Fields for management data - These are fields used by the organisation for its internal operations, such as in keeping track of who entered which records into the database, or which fields are to be included when exchanging with certain other organisations.

What are roles?

Roles define what a person is in relation to an event. For types of roles, please refer to “What are the roles that a Person can have in an Event?”

What is a Document?

A document is anything that provides information (like a picture, death certificate, article, etc.). A document can also have a file attachment, in any format. Documents can be linked to any other records, and linked to many different records all at the same time: this reflects the idea that documentary sources often evidence many different things.

What is documentation?

Documentation is a process consisting of several activities, namely:

  • Determining what information is needed and establishing means for acquiring it;
  • Recording the discovered information and storing such in appropriate containers (called documents) or collecting already-existing documents containing the needed information;
  • Organizing the documents to make them more accessible; and actually providing the documents to users who need the information.

To read more on this subject, please read the HURIDOCS manual “What is Documentation?” which can be found at

What is Monitoring?

Monitoring means the close observation of a situation or individual case carried out so as to determine what further action needs to be taken. The following elements constitute monitoring:

  • It is carried out over an extended period of time.
  • It involves collecting or receiving a large quantity of data. 
  • Close observation of the situation is done through constant or periodic examination or investigation and documentation of developments. 
  • Standards or norms are used as reference in objectively assessing the situation or case in question, especially in determining what is wrong with it. 
  • Tools or instruments are used in identifying how the situation compares with established standards or norms. 
  • The product of monitoring is usually a report about the situation. 
  • The report embodies an assessment of the situation which provides a basis for further action.

To read more on this subject, please read the HURIDOCS manual “What is Monitoring?” which can be found at

How do you rate the reliability of source information?

Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in documentation of human rights abuses is assessing the reliability of your source. With this in mind, we have added fields to OpenEvSys that will allow you to indicate how reliable you believe the source is.

What are Additional Details?

Additional Details formats contain additional information that records aspects of an act that are specific to particular types of acts. The act standard format contains a set of fields which are general to every sort of act, such as initial date, location and type of act. However, some types of act require information specific to that act, but not others. For example, if the type of act is "property damage", then the "value of the property" is something we want to know. However, if the type of act is "physical assault", why have a field for "value of the property"? Hence the additional details format. There are currently four additional details formats for killing, torture, property destruction and arrest.

What is an Involvement?

Involvement means the participation of a perpetrator in a particular act, whether as one who directly committed it, or otherwise. Details about a perpetrator's involvement are recorded separately from Acts, since there can be many perpetrators for a single act, involved in different ways.

What is Information?

Information is the provision by a source, to the fact-finder, of data about an event, a victim, or a perpetrator. Information is different from a Document, which is a method through which Information is provided or stored.

What is an Intervention?

An Intervention is any action by a Person (i.e. an individul, or an organisation) designed to change the course of an Event or the status of those involved in the Event, especially in terms of assistance. It can be for instance, the examination of a victim to seek marks of torture, or the dissemination of a press release to denounce a massacre.

What is the difference between “Sources” and “Information”?

The data gathered from a “Source” is “Information.” Thus, a source is a person, whereas "Information" is the data you gather from said person.

What is the difference between “Perpetrator” and “Involvement”?

A “Perpetrator” is a role that a person can have, whereas “Involvement” details the involvement of a “Perpetrator” in an Act.

What is the difference between “Victim” and “Act”?

A “Victim” is a role that a person can have, whereas an “Act” is the action that creates a victim.

What is the difference between “Intervening Party” and “Intervention”?

“Intervening Party” is a role, whereas “Intervention” is the action that the respective role undertook.

What is a Biographic Detail?

Biographic Details are data that document key periods in the life of an individual or group, including the various relationships that the individual or group has gone through, such as being a spouse, a member of a group, an affiliate of a bigger group or police or military careers. Other types of information that are also relevant in human rights monitoring include the educational and employment history of an individual.

Can I categorize records into the rights violated?

Yes, the analysis feature of OpenEvSys allows you to search your records based on rights violated. For example, you can look for all cases where abduction was the violation and easily bring up all relevant entries your organization has made.

Can an Act violate more than one right?

Yes and No. And Act by nature constitutes a single violation, but an Event can contain multiple Acts, which allows OpenEvSys can still express multiple violations. However, the particular conduct described in an Act could violate a number of different sorts of rights. For example, the physical assault of a journalist violates the right to physical integrity, but may also violate the right to freedom of assembly or expression, depending on context. These are difficult legal questions.

Can a Person be a victim more than once?

Yes, a person can be a victim multiple times. OpenEvSys indicates this by listing individual Acts when viewing an Event. For example, if a person is abducted and then executed, you can give in the first act as abduction and the second act as an execution. OpenEvSys will list each act separately, even if the victim is the same. Example of a person being a victim more than once

Can a person be a Victim, and then a Perpetrator, in the same Event?


Can a person be a Victim, and then a Perpetrator in different Events?