The journal Disasters just published an interesting piece entitled “Images of War: Using satellite images for human rights monitoring in Turkish Kurdistan.” The authors conclude that satellite images are “useful to validate witness reports of forest fires [and while] the use of this technology for human rights groups will depend on some feasibility factors such as prices, access and expertise, the images proved to be key for analysis of spatial aspects of conflict and valuable for reconstructing a more trustworthy picture.”
Other points from the publication worth noting:
Our study has proven that even with limited resources it is possible to combine remote sensing with local witness reports, when they include information about time and place. Depending on the kind of human rights violations being monitored, costs may vary significantly. As we focussed here on burned forests we could use the cheaper Landsat images. Our method of a remotely-sensed analysis (in our case by means of satellite images) is based on the availability of information about the area under study. Even without high resolution satellite images we were able to show the structural nature of village destruction.