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Open Source Summit 2018

On October 23, 2018, Patrick Ball keynoted at the Open Source Summit in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Guatemala

Collecting and Protecting Human Rights Data in Guatemala (1991-2013) In 1996, a peace accord brokered by the United Nations ended 36 years of internal armed conflict in Guatemala. During the hostilities, non-governmental organizations asked for technical support from the scientific community in the project to gather the experiences of witnesses and victims in databases. From 1993 to 1999 Dr. Patrick Ball, then at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), worked with the International Center for Human Rights Research in Guatemala (CIIDH) to collect and organize evidence of more than 43,000 human rights violations. The ...

Liberian TRC Data and Data Dictionary

The files linked on this page contain the data used in the calculations presented in Benetech's report to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission entitled "Descriptive Statistics From Statements to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission." In accordance with Benetech's Memorandum of Understanding with the TRC, these data are published on the Internet so that others can use the material to replicate our findings and continue research on past human rights violations in Liberia. In order to protect the privacy of the people who suffered, the information in the files below contains no personal identifying information about the victims or ...

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…)

Rionegro

Text in English El uso de información de cementerios en la búsqueda de los desaparecidos: lecciones de un estudio piloto en Rionegro, Antioquia, Colombia Entre mayo y julio de 2009, investigadores del Grupo de Análisis de Datos de Derechos Humanos de Benetech (HRDAG por su sigla en inglés), condujeron un estudio piloto que examinó los patrones de la información sobre los cadáveres sin identificar en el cementerio de Rionegro, un municipio en el departamento de Antioquia, Colombia. El estudio se realizó en apoyo a los actuales esfuerzos de la organización socia de HRDAG, EQUITAS (Equipo Colombiano Interdisciplinario de Trabajo Forense y ...

Building Capacity in Colombia: Truth and Reconciliation

The datasets contributed by 30+ organizations do a wonderful job of tallying the violence that was observed—but they don’t account for the violence that nobody witnessed or documented.

14 Questions about Counting Casualties in Syria

In early 2012, HRDAG was commissioned by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to do an enumeration project, essentially a count of all of the reported casualties in the Syrian conflict. HRDAG has published two analyses so far, the first in January 2013, and the second in June 2013. In this post, HRDAG scientists Anita Gohdes, Megan Price, and Patrick Ball answer questions about that project. So, how many people have been killed in the Syrian conflict? This is a complicated question. As of our last report, in June 2013, we know that there have been at least 93,000 reported, identifiable conflict-related casualties. The ...

Police Accountability in Chicago: from Data Dump to Usable Data

HRDAG is helping the Invisible Institute turn their windfall of raw data about police misconduct into data that can be analyzed.

India

In 2009, as Indians debated institutional reform of their security forces in the wake of the previous year's Mumbai attacks, HRDAG issued a groundbreaking report about the human cost of suspending the rule of law during a violent counterinsurgency campaign in the Indian state of Punjab. Together with our partner Ensaaf, HRDAG released findings that cast substantial doubt on the Indian government's past explanations and justifications for disappearances and extrajudicial killings during the height of the Punjab counterinsurgency in the early 1990s. These findings contribute to an increasing body of knowledge that informs policy questions about the ...

There may have been 14 undocumented Korean “comfort women” in Palembang, Indonesia

Patrick Ball, Ethan Hee-Seok Shin and Hyerin Yang (2018). There may have been 14 undocumented Korean “comfort women” in Palembang, Indonesia. Human Rights Data Analysis Group. 26 December 2018.© 2018 HRDAG. Creative Commons.

Patrick Ball, Ethan Hee-Seok Shin and Hyerin Yang (2018). There may have been 14 undocumented Korean “comfort women” in Palembang, Indonesia. Human Rights Data Analysis Group. 26 December 2018.© 2018 HRDAG. Creative Commons.


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.

Reflections on Data Science for Real-World Problems

Trina Reynolds-Tyler's internship at HRDAG helped her use data science to find patterns in state-sanctioned violence.

A Comparison of Marginal and Conditional Models for Capture–Recapture Data with Application to Human Rights Violations Data

Shira Mitchell, Al Ozonoff, Alan Zaslavsky, Bethany Hedt-Gauthier, Kristian Lum and Brent Coull (2013). A Comparison of Marginal and Conditional Models for Capture-Recapture Data with Application to Human Rights Violations Data. Biometrics, Volume 69, Issue 4, pages 1022–1032, December 2013. © 2013, The International Biometric Society. DOI: 10.1111/biom.12089.

Shira Mitchell, Al Ozonoff, Alan Zaslavsky, Bethany Hedt-Gauthier, Kristian Lum and Brent Coull (2013). A Comparison of Marginal and Conditional Models for Capture-Recapture Data with Application to Human Rights Violations Data. Biometrics, Volume 69Issue 4pages 1022–1032December 2013. © 2013, The International Biometric Society. DOI: 10.1111/biom.12089.


Press Release, Timor-Leste, February 2006

SILICON VALLEY GROUP USES TECHNOLOGY TO HELP THE TRUTH COMMISSION ANSWER DISPUTED QUESTIONS ABOUT MASSIVE POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN TIMOR-LESTE Palo Alto, CA, February 9, 2006 – The Benetech® Initiative today released a statistical report detailing widespread and systematic violations in Timor-Leste during the period 1974-1999. Benetech's statistical analysis establishes that at least 102,800 (+/- 11,000) Timorese died as a result of the conflict. Approximately 18,600 (+/- 1000) Timorese were killed or disappeared, while the remainder died due to hunger and illness in excess of what would be expected due to peacetime mortality. The magnitude of deaths ...

El Salvador

Some of the earliest large-scale human rights information projects happened in El Salvador. One was developed by Patrick Ball at the Salvadoran non-governmental Human Rights Commission, also known as Comision de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador (CDHES-ng). Between 1977 and 1990, more than 9,000 testimonies were taken in an effort to document the nature and scope of the bloody conflict between the army and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). Starting in 1991, Patrick worked with CDHES staff to organize the information in an early computer database. They linked reported human rights violations with the career structures of individual ...

Our Copyright Policy

We have specified "Some Rights Reserved" on our website, instead of the more conventional "All Rights Reserved." This is because some of our web content is covered by a Creative Commons license, which means that it may be copied and even re-purposed, with some stipulations. We have made this decision because HRDAG wants to contribute to the digital commons, defined by Creative Commons as "a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law." Our Creative Commons License We are using the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, also known as the BY-NC-SA license. Here is ...

Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Data

In July 2009, The Human Rights Data Analysis Group concluded a three-year project with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help clarify Liberia’s violent history and hold perpetrators of human rights abuses accountable for their actions. In the course of this work, HRDAG analyzed more than 17,000 victim and witness statements collected by the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and compiled the data into a report entitled “Descriptive Statistics From Statements to the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” Liberian TRC data and the accompanying data dictionary anonymized-statgivers.csv contains information ...

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.

The task is a quantum of workflow

This post describes how we organize our work over ten years, twenty analysts, dozens of countries, and hundreds of projects: we start with a task. A task is a single chunk of work, a quantum of workflow. Each task is self-contained and self-documenting; I'll talk about these ideas at length below. We try to keep each task as small as possible, which makes it easy to understand what the task is doing, and how to test whether the results are correct. In the example I'll describe here, I'm going to describe work from our Syria database matching project, which includes about 100 tasks. I'll start with the first thing we do with files we receive ...

Frequently Asked Questions

Multiple Systems Estimation What is MSE?  What do you mean by statistical inference?  What is an overlap, and how do we know when lists overlap?   How does MSE find the total number of violations?  How was MSE originally developed?  How does the Benetech Human Rights Program use MSE?    1. What is MSE? A: Multiple Systems Estimation, or MSE, is a family of techniques for statistical inference. MSE uses the overlaps between several incomplete lists of human rights violations to determine the total number of violations. Return to Top 2. What do you mean by statistical inference? A: ...

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.

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