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Reports of torture and disappearances in Syria are not new. But the Amnesty International report says the magnitude and severity of abuse has “increased drastically” since 2011. Citing the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, the report says “at least 17,723 people were killed in government custody between March 2011 and December 2015, an average of 300 deaths each month.”
DatNav is the result of a collaboration between Amnesty International, Benetech, and The Engine Room, which began in late 2015 culminating in an intense four-day writing sprint facilitated by Chris Michael and Collaborations for Change in May 2016. HRDAG consultant Jule Krüger is a contributor, and HRDAG director of research Patrick Ball is a reviewer.
William Isaac and Kristian Lum. Predictive policing violates more than it protects. USA Today. December 2, 2016. © USA Today.
Data scientists are programmers who ignore probability but like pretty graphs, said Patrick Ball, a statistician and human rights advocate who cofounded the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.
“Data is broken,” Ball said. “Anyone who thinks they’re going to use big data to solve a problem is already on the path to fantasy land.”
Excerpt from the article: The estimate is based on reports from four organizations investigating deaths in Syria from March 15, 2011, to December, 31, 2015. From those cases, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group identified 12,270 cases with sufficient information to confirm the person was killed in detention. Using a statistical method to estimate how many victims they do not yet know about, the group came up with 17,723 cases.
HRDAG analyst William Isaac is quoted in this article about so-called crime prediction. “They’re not predicting the future. What they’re actually predicting is where the next recorded police observations are going to occur.”
Patrick Ball (2016). The case against a golden key. Foreign Affairs. September 14, 2016. ©2016 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Executive director Megan Price is interviewed in The New York Times’ Sunday Review, as part of a series known as “Download,” which features a biosketch of “Influencers and their interests.”
In this free, downloadable report, Mike Barlow of O’Reilly Media cites several examples of how data and the work of data scientists have made a measurable impact on organizations such as DataKind, a group that connects socially minded data scientists with organizations working to address critical humanitarian issues. HRDAG—and executive director Megan Price—is one of the first organizations whose work is mentioned.
Suddeutsche Zeitung writer Hakan Tanriverdi interviews HRDAG affiliate Anita Gohdes and writes about her work on the Syrian casualty enumeration project for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This article, “Bürgerkrieg in Syrien: Das Internet als Kriegswaffe,” is in German.
On Wednesday, February 4, in Pristina, international experts praised the Humanitarian Law Centre’s database on victims of the Kosovo conflict, the Kosovo Memory Book. HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball is quoted in the article that appeared in Balkan Transitional Justice.
Suddeutsche Zeitung writer Mirjam Hauck interviewed HRDAG affiliate Anita Gohdes about the pitfalls of relying on social media data when interpreting violence in the context of war. This article, “Kriege und Social Media: Die Daten sind nicht perfekt,” is in German.
The Columbia Journalism Review investigates the casualty count in Iraq, more than a decade after the U.S. invasion. HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball is quoted. “IBC is very good at covering the bombs that go off in markets,” said Patrick Ball, an analyst at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group who says his whole career is to study “people being killed.” But quiet assassinations and military skirmishes away from the capital often receive little or no media attention.
Patrick Ball, un expert en statistiques engagé par les Chambres africaines extraordinaires, a conclu que la « mortalité dans les prisons de la DDS fut substantiellement plus élevée que celles des pires contextes du XXe siècle de prisonniers de guerre ».