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RustConf 2019, and systems programming as a data scientist

It could make sense to use Rust as a data journalist for in-browser computations, and other thoughts from RustConf.

La estadística de mortalidad del conflicto en Perú

En ese artículo respondemos a una crítica del estudio de mortalidad que realizamos para la Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación en 2003.

Training with HRDAG: Rules for Organizing Data and More

I had the pleasure of working with Patrick Ball at the HRDAG office in San Francisco for a week during summer 2016. I knew Patrick from two workshops he previously hosted at the University of Washington’s Centre for Human Rights (UWCHR). The workshops were indispensable to us at UWCHR as we worked to publish a number of datasets on human rights violations during the El Salvador Civil War.  The training was all the more helpful because the HRDAG team was so familiar with the data. As part of an impressive career which took him from Ethiopia and Kosovo to Haiti and El Salvador among others, Patrick himself had worked on gathering and analysing ...

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Perú, Final Report – General Conclusions.


In 2001, President Alejandro Toledo, called for the establishment of the Comision de la Verdad y Reconciliacion (CVR) (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) to investigate human rights abuses in Perú between 1980 and 2000. Dr. Patrick Ball was invited to work with the Commission to evaluate the CVR technical work and make recommendations on the information management process and analytic strategies. HRDAG consultant Jana Asher worked with Dr. Ball and CVR staff members David Sulmont (Director Informations Systems) and Daniel Manrique (Database Expert) to present evidence of the violations in a report to the CVR. The work included new estimates of ...

Multiple Systems Estimation: The Matching Process

<<Previous post: Collection, Cleaning, and Canonicalization of Data Q8. What do you mean by "overlap," and why are overlaps important? Q9. [In depth] Why is automated matching so important, and what process do you use to match records?  Q8. What do you mean by "overlap," and why are overlaps important? MSE estimates the total number of violations by comparing the size of the overlap(s) between lists of human rights violations to the sizes of the lists themselves. By "overlap," we mean the set of incidents, such as deaths, that appear on more than one list of human rights violations. Accurately and efficiently identifying overlaps between ...

Yezidi Activists Teach HRDAG about Human Rights – updated

UPDATE (21 Dec 2014): Juan Cole is reporting that the Kurdish militia (the peshmerga) have retaken Shingal (also known as Sinjar) mountain where many Yezidi people have been trapped since 3 August 2014. They are now moving to liberate other Yezidi towns south of the mountain. The Yezidi people trapped on the mountain are now free. There is no word yet on the thousands of Yezidi people enslaved by ISIS. ORIGINAL (19 Nov 2014): Farhad (not his real name) got the call from ISIS on his personal cell phone just after lunch: we have your sister, and we will give her back if you pay us $6000, plus $1500 for the driver. Carrying little more than his ...

String matching for governorate information in unstructured text

code{white-space: pre;} pre:not([class]) { background-color: white; } h1 { font-size: 34px; } h1.title { font-size: 38px; } h2 { font-size: 30px; } h3 { font-size: 24px; } h4 { font-size: 18px; } h5 { font-size: 16px; } h6 { font-size: 12px; } .table th:not([align]) { text-align: left; } .main-container { max-width: 940px; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } code { color: inherit; background-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.04); } img { max-width:100%; height: auto; } .tabbed-pane { padding-top: 12px; } .html-widget { margin-bottom: 20px; } button.code-foldin...

Herb Spirer, 1925 – 2018

Herb led and mentored a generation of statisticians working in human rights.

Preguntas frecuentes sobre el proyecto JEP-CEV-HRDAG de integración de datos y estimación estadística

¿Hay una fuente de información única sobre las víctimas del conflicto armado en Colombia? No. Colombia cuenta con un amplio proceso de documentación de víctimas del conflicto armado. Cientos de entidades, organizaciones de víctimas y organizaciones de la sociedad civil han focalizado sus esfuerzos en registrar la información. Sin embargo, cada entidad u organización desarrolla este proceso con las limitaciones propias de capacidades técnicas, logísticas, sociales y de misionalidad, lo que conduce a que ninguna entidad ni organización logre documentar el universo completo de víctimas.  Esto se debe a que les es imposible llegar a ...

HRDAG Testifies in Hissène Habré Trial

Last week HRDAG’s executive director, Patrick Ball, served as an expert witness for the prosecution in the trial of Hissène Habré, the ruler of Chad from 1982 to 1990. The trial is taking place in Dakar, Senegal, where the 73-year-old Habré has been living since 1990 when he fled Chad. He has already been sentenced to death in absentia in Chad. Habré is being charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture that took place during his eight-year reign. The trial is happening at the Extraordinary African Chambers, which was inaugurated by Senegal and the African Union to try Habré. This is the first time that one country has ...

CIIDH Data – Value Labels

Version date: 2000.01.29 Current version: ATV20.1 Patrick Ball & Herbert F. Spirer v_ind -------------+----------- Victim | Ethnic | category | | Freq. -------------+----------- 1 Indigenous | 2,722 2 Ladino | 1,014 3 Unknown | 13,687 | Total | 17,423 -------------+----------- v_sex ----------+----------- Victim | Sex | Freq. ----------+----------- 4 F | 2,001 5 M | 11,445 6 d | 3,977 | Total | 17,423 ----------+----------- v_eth -------------+----------- Victim | Maternal | language ...

Multiple Systems Estimation: Stratification and Estimation

<< Previous post, MSE: The Matching Process Q10. What is stratification? Q11. [In depth] How do HRDAG analysts approach stratification, and why is it important? Q12. How does MSE find the total number of violations? Q13. [In depth] What are the assumptions of two-system MSE (capture-recapture)? Why are they not necessary with three or more systems? Q14. What statistical model(s) does HRDAG typically use to calculate MSE estimates? (more…)

Las cifras de la CVR en el 2019

Las estimaciones se estratificaron por ubicación y perpetrador.

In Solidarity

We stand with our partners and every organizer fighting for justice.

Timor-Leste FAQs

How do you know that there are more conflict-related deaths than have been reported to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR, by its Portuguese acronym)? Where did the method of multiple systems estimation come from? If you didn't have access to the whole population, how do you know how representative these data are of the entire population? i.e. How do you control for bias? What are the total conflict-related mortality numbers? How many people were killed and disappeared between 1974 and 1999? And how many people died due to hunger and illness? What is the margin of error associated with these results? What is ...

How We Choose Projects

For more than 20 years, HRDAG has been carving out a niche in the international human rights movement. We know what we’re good at and what we’re not qualified to do. We know what quantitative questions we think are important for the community, and we know what we like to do. These preferences guide us as we consider whether to take on a project. We’re scientists, so our priorities will come as no surprise. We like to stick to science (not ideology), avoid advocacy, answer quantifiable questions, and increase our scientific understanding. While we have no hard-and-fast rules about what projects to take on, we organize our deliberation ...

12 Questions about Using Data Analysis to Bring Guatemalan War Criminals to Justice

When people talk about war criminals in Guatemala, which war are they talking about? They’re talking about the Guatemalan civil war, which began in 1960 and ended in 1996. That’s thirty-six years of civil war. Even though it ended almost two decades ago, Guatemala is still recovering from it. At its simplest, this civil war story was right-wing government forces fighting leftist rebels. But it went deeper than that, of course. The majority of the rebel forces was composed of indigenous peoples, primarily the Maya, (more…)

Deportation Possible for El Salvador’s Gen. García – Supported by HRDAG Analysis

Gen. José Guillermo García, El Salvador’s defense minister from 1979 to 1983, may be deported from Florida to El Salvador because of his involvement in war crimes that occurred under his command. The recommendation comes from a Miami immigration judge, whose decision was supported with expert testimony from Stanford political science professor Terry Karl, who presented extensive statistical analysis of killings, disappearances, kidnappings, torture and other crimes under Gen. García’s watch. The statistical analysis was a joint effort between Professor Karl and Amelia Hoover Green and Patrick Ball of Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). ...

Data Archaeology for Human Rights in Central America: HRDAG Collaborates with UWCHR

Patrick Ball is kicking himself for a decision he made almost 25 years ago. “I was clever, but I wasn’t smart,” he says ruefully, as he considers the labyrinth of tables and ASCII-encoded keystrings he used to design a database of human rights violations for the pioneering Salvadoran non-governmental Human Rights Commission (CDHES). Now I’m sitting in his office in San Francisco’s Mission District watching over his shoulder, and trying to keep up, as he bangs out code to decipher the priceless data contained in these old files. Created in 1991 and 1992, during the last days of El Salvador’s internal armed conflict, the files detail ...

Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.