4 results for month: 04/2013


How we go about estimating casualties in Syria—Part 1

I spent the two weeks over Easter working with Patrick and Megan in San Francisco, trying to figure out a strategy of how best to estimate the number of casualties the Syrian civil war has claimed in the past two years. In January, HRDAG published a report on the number of fully identified casualties reported in the Syrian Arab Republic between March 2011 and November 2012. The number of de-duplicated records of killings for this period was 59,648, a number that is likely to be an undercount since we know that many incidences of lethal violence in conflict go unreported, and that the unreported cases are not missing at random. (more…)

Trips to and from Guatemala

HRDAG has been working with the Historic Archive of the National Police in Guatemala (hereafter, the Archive) for the past seven years.  The Archive contains a treasure trove of data recorded and kept by the Guatemalan National Police over the past century.  When the Archive was first discovered in 2005, researchers there immediately recognized both the value and fragility of the tens of millions of documents.  As a result, they reached out to HRDAG, and we reached out to volunteers at Westat to devise a plan to estimate the contents of the entire Archive as quickly as possible in case the documents were destroyed or access to them was limited.  ...

HRDAG and the Trial of José Efraín Ríos Montt

At some point in the next week, HRDAG's executive director, Patrick Ball, will be providing expert testimony in the trial of General José Efraín Ríos Montt, the de-facto president of Guatemala in 1982-1983. Gen. Ríos is being tried on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. (His military intelligence director, Gen. Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez is also on trial.) Patrick will testify on approximately April 15-18, 2013, and he may begin as early as this Friday, April 12. The trial opened on March 20, 2013, in the Supreme Court building in Guatemala City. According to an Open Society Justice Initiative blogpost covering the event, the ...

Convenience Samples: What they are, and what they should (and should not) be used for

As noted on our Core Concepts page, we spend a lot of time worrying about the ways data are used to make claims about human rights violations.  This is because inaccurate statistics can damage the credibility of human rights claims.  Analyses of records of human rights violations are used to guide policy decisions, determine resource allocation for interventions, and inform transitional justice mechanisms.  It is vital that such analyses are accurate. Unfortunately, all too often these decisions are based, inappropriately, on analyses of a single convenience sample. (more…)