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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…)

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). ...

Death March

A mapped representation of the scale and spread of killings in Syria. HRDAG's director of research, Megan Price, is quoted. FOREIGN POLICY | MAP ROOM Jacopo Ottaviani January 15, 2014 Link to story in Foreign Policy Back to Press Room

How Many Peruvians Have Died?

Patrick Ball, Jana Asher, David Sulmont, and Daniel Manrique. “How Many Peruvians Have Died?” © 2003 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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 ...

Seeking the Truth with Documentation

The need to establish the truth around events is central to goals of transitional justice, particularly securing accountability, establishing legitimate and effective justice mechanisms, and laying the foundations for a peaceful society. Documentation to provide verifiable and widely accepted accounts of such events is a critical component of establishing this truth, or the multiple truths that may exist for a population. It is difficult to overstate the important role of documentation in transitional justice efforts. If some of what follows sounds familiar, echoing points of previous posts, it is no coincidence.  Documentation, in a word, is the ...

Guatemala CIIDH Data

Welcome to the web data resource for the International Center for Human Rights Research (Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos, or CIIDH). Here you will find raw data on human rights violations in Guatemala during the period 1960-1996. You're welcome to use it for your own statistical analyses. ASCII delimited (csv) Resource Information Data Dictionary Value Labels File Structure (Variables) These files are between 300-700 kilobytes. The data are stored in a zipped compression format. For an explanation of how the data are structured and what the variables represent, see the data dictionary. If you use ...

Data on Kosovo – Other

The other data is in three files. All of the files are comma-delimited UTF-8 (like ASCII but including the characters to render Serbian names). The fields in each file are described below. If you use these data, please cite them with the following citation, as well as this note: “These are convenience sample data, and as such they are not a statistically representative sample of events in this conflict.  These data do not support conclusions about patterns, trends, or other substantive comparisons (such as over time, space, ethnicity, age, etc.).” Human Rights Data Analysis Group. (2002). Database of NATO airstrikes, geographic coding, and KLA ...

Multiple Systems Estimation: The Basics

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. In this blogpost, and four more to follow, I’ll answer both conceptual and practical questions about this important method. (In posts to follow, questions that refer to specific statistical procedures or debates will be marked, "In depth.") (more…)


As of today, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) is an independent* non-profit! It's been a long time coming, and we're delighted to have gotten to this point. HRDAG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that applies rigorous science to the analysis of human rights violations around the world; for more information, see our About Us page. Benetech has spun out the scientific and statistical part of the Human Rights Program to HRDAG. The spinout includes (as staff) me -- Patrick Ball -- and Dr Megan Price, as well as our many part-time scientific and field consultants (a list is here). The software and technology component of our work -- ...

HRDAG Report on Disappeared Tamils in Army Custody in Sri Lanka

HRDAG has published a report about the 500 Tamils who disappeared while in Army custody in Sri Lanka in 2009.

Statistics and Slobodan

Patrick Ball and Jana Asher (2002). “Statistics and Slobodan: Using Data Analysis and Statistics in the War Crimes Trial of Former President Milosevic.” Chance, vol. 15, No. 4, 2002. Reprinted with permission ofChance. © 2002 American Statistical Association. All rights reserved.

Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India: A Preliminary Quantitative Analysis

Romesh Silva, Jasmine Marwaha and Jeff Klingner. “Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India: A Preliminary Quantitative Analysis,” A Joint Report by Benetech’s Human Rights Data Analysis Group & Ensaaf, Inc. January, 2009.

Update on Work in Guatemala and the AHPN

HRDAG has sampled and analyzed documents at Guatemala's AHPN and has testified against war criminals based on that analysis.

Drug-Related Killings in the Philippines

HRDAG analysis shows that the government figures are a gross underestimation of the drug-related killings in the Philippines.

Outreach at Toronto TamilFest for Counting the Dead

Michelle spent a weekend in Toronto, Canada, reaching out to the community at TamilFest, where she and a colleague invited people to sit down and talk.

State Coordinated Violence in Chad under Hissene Habre: A Statistical Analysis of Reported Prison Mortality in Chad’s DDS Prisons and Command Responsibility of Hissene Habre, 1982-1990.

Romesh Silva, Jeff Klingner, and Scott Weikart. “State Coordinated Violence in Chad under Hissene Habre: A Statistical Analysis of Reported Prison Mortality in Chad’s DDS Prisons and Command Responsibility of Hissene Habre, 1982-1990.” A Report by Benetech’s Human Rights Data Analysis Group to Human Rights Watch and the Chadian Association of Victims of Political Repression and Crimes. 29 January 2010. (Available in French) © 2010 Benetech. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

Coming soon: HRDAG 2019 Year-End Review

The online version of the 2019 Year-End Review will appear in January 2020.            

El científico que usa estadísticas para encontrar desaparecidos en El Salvador, Guatemala y México

Patrick Ball es un sabueso de la verdad. Ese deseo de descubrir lo que otros quieren ocultar lo ha llevado a desarrollar fórmulas matemáticas para detectar desaparecidos.

Su trabajo consiste en aplicar métodos de medición científica para comprobar violaciones masivas de derechos humanos.

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.