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HRDAG Retreat 2015

I look at the beach and then at the table surrounded by nerds, deep in thought and conversation about Dirichlet priors, matching algorithms, and armed conflicts. This peculiar (in the best way) environment catalyzes a moment of reflection: how did I get here? Four years ago, as a second-year statistics PhD student, I watched "Guatemala: The Secret Files" on PBS Frontline World. I listened to stories of family members who disappeared without answers or justice. Then the story shifted to the work being done by archivists and data experts at Guatemala's Historic Archive of the National Police. The scientists' pursuit of the truth energized me. I ...

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). ...

New Estimate Of Killings By Police Is Way Higher — And Still Too Low

Carl Bialik of 538 Politics interviews HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball in an article about the recently released Bureau of Justice Statistics report about the number of annual police killings, both reported and unreported. As Bialik writes, this is a math puzzle with real consequences. Here's an excerpt. Patrick Ball, co-author of the critique and executive director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, said it’s not the BJS’s fault that it underestimated the number. That it estimated it at all was an important step, he said. Government agencies don’t all audit their own data or undertake the difficult task of matching records that ...

Evaluation of the Kosovo Memory Book

At the end of 2014 we completed the evaluation of the Kosovo Memory Book database and are pleased to conclude that the database has succeeded in documenting all or nearly all the human losses during conflicts in Kosovo during the period from 1998 to 2000. With a motto of "Let people remember people," the goal of the Kosovo Memory Book (KMB) is to document all people who were killed or disappeared in connection with the war in Kosovo. The project aimed to document all human losses during armed conflict in the territory of the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) between 1998 and 2000. The KMB database evaluation is the fruition of several years of ...

Herb Spirer, 1925 – 2018

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

Syria: No word on four abducted activists

Razan Zatouneh is an esteemed colleague of ours, and we are one of 57 organizations demanding immediate release for her and the three other human rights defenders still missing. A year on, no information on Douma Four The prominent Syrian human rights defenders Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wa’el Hamada and Nazem Hamadi – the Douma Four—remain missing a year after their abduction, 57 organizations said today. The four were abducted in Duma, a city near Damascus under the control of armed opposition groups. They should be released immediately, the groups said. On 9 December 2013, at about 10:40 pm, a group of armed men stormed into the ...

New analysis of World War II Korean “comfort women” held by Japanese

There may have been more undocumented World War II-era Korean "comfort women" than known.

HRDAG Testimony in Guatemala Retrials

HRDAG analysis presented by Patrick found that 5 percent of the indigenous Maya Ixil population was killed in a 15-month period.

Updated Casualty Count for Syria

Today the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released an HRDAG-prepared report that describes and tallies documented killings in the Syrian Arab Republic from the beginning of the conflict in March 2011 through April 2014. (The report is here.) This is our third report for the UN on the Syrian conflict, and it is an update of work we published in January 2013 and June 2013. The report, Updated Statistical Analysis of Documentation of Killings in the Syrian Arab Republic, concludes that approximately 191,000 identifiable victims have been reported in the period covered (March 2011 – April 2014). (more…)

HRDAG To Join the Partnership on AI

HRDAG is joining Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society (PAI).

Welcoming Our 2019 Human Rights Intern

Trina Reynolds-Tyler is HRDAG's 2019 Human Rights Intern.

Drug-Related Killings in the Philippines

Patrick Ball, Sheila Coronel, Mariel Padilla and David Mora (2019). Drug-related killings in the Philippines. Human Rights Data Analysis Group. 26 July 2019. © HRDAG 2019.

Patrick Ball, Sheila Coronel, Mariel Padilla and David Mora (2019). Drug-related killings in the Philippines. Human Rights Data Analysis Group. 26 July 2019. © HRDAG 2019.

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.

CIIDH Data – Dictionary

Version date: 2000.01.29 Current version: ATV20.1 Patrick Ball & Herbert F. Spirer The unit of analysis for each record in this structure is VIOLATION. Each violation was of a particular type, happened at a particular time and place, and was committed by zero, one, or several organizational perpetrators. The violation was committed against zero or one named (individually identified) victim, and zero or more anonymous (unidentified) additional victims. The violation was reported one or more times in one, two, or three source types. Note that to count the number of times individuals suffered particular violations, users should sum either the ...

Megan Price: Life-Long ‘Math Nerd’ Finds Career in Social Justice

“I was always a math nerd. My mother has a polaroid of me in the fourth grade with my science fair project … . It was the history of mathematics. In college, I was a math major for a year and then switched to statistics.

I always wanted to work in social justice. I was raised by hippies, went to protests when I was young. I always felt I had an obligation to make the world a little bit better.”

Contact Us

You may contact us via info @ hrdag.org or use this form. Would you like to receive our newsletter? Great! Please sign up here. Employment with HRDAG At HRDAG, we’re creating an exceptional team that will put our mission into action. We hope you’ll join us. We currently have an opening for a Statistician (October 2021) and will post the job description soon. In the meantime, please keep in touch by signing up for our newsletters and following us on Twitter @hrdag. If you do not see a job listed here, please do not send your CV or résumé, as we do not file or save them, and we will only have to send you a sad “No Thank You” ...

Get Involved/Donate

Donating to HRDAG Thank you for your interest in making a donation to the Human Rights Data Analysis Group to help us use science to support our partners in the human rights world. You can make a donation by credit card on the Community Partners® Network for Good page. HRDAG is a "project of Community Partners," and right below  the section on payment information, you'll be able to select "Human Rights Data Analysis Group" from a drop-down menu. (On most browsers, if you use this link, HRDAG will be pre-selected on the drop-down menu.) This transaction will appear on your credit card statement as "Network for Good." If you donate by check, ...


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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 ...

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.