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HRDAG and #GivingTuesday 2017

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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 ...

Kosovo Data – Killings, Migrations and More

Much of the debate about the March–June 1999 war between NATO and Yugoslavia turned on how many people left their homes in particular places and at certain times. Solid information about the flow of refugees out of Kosovo has helped investigators to link patterns in the flow to patterns of NATO bombing, Yugoslav strategic plans for "cleansing" Kosovo, and Yugoslav and irregular troop deployments. At its heart, the debate was about whether refugees left their homes fleeing NATO attacks and fighting between the KLA and Yugoslav forces, or whether they left their homes after being threatened, assaulted, and robbed by Yugoslav police, army, and irregu...

Talks

Upcoming Talks TBA Past Talks 2015 Presentation on the research behind the Evaluation of the Kosovo Memory Book Database. National Archive, Pristina, Kosovo. Patrick Ball. February 4, 2015. How do we know what we know? Patrick Ball. Arizona State University. January, 2015. AAAS Science & Human Rights Coalition Meeting: Big Data & Human Rights. Megan Price, panelist. Washington, D.C. January 15-16, 2015. Examining the Crisis in Syria: Conference Hosted by New America and Arizona State University’s Center on the Future of War and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Megan Price, panelist. Washingt...

Chad

HissÚne Habré's rule over the former French colony of Chad, from 1982 to 1990, was marked by numerous and credible allegations of systematic torture and crimes against humanity. Habré claims that he was not aware of violations committed by the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), the state security force that pursued political opponents and operated notorious prisons during his regime. In January 2010, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) released a new study showing that Habré was well informed of the hundreds of deaths that occurred in prisons operated by the DDS. The HRDAG report, State Coordinated Violence in Chad under ...

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 ...

HRDAG Retreat 2018

What follows is an elaborate criss-crossing of collaborations—retreat is a time to embrace the productivity that comes with being in the same room.

Timor-Leste

During the violence in Timor-Leste in June 2006, armed gangs broke into the offices of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) in Dili and stole their motorbikes. The Human Rights Data Analysis Group, then at BenetechÂź, and other human rights observers wondered whether the mobs would soon return to loot the irreplaceable paper records used by the CAVR to compile their definitive report entitled "Chega!" The Benetech Initiative contributed to the CAVR findings and released a separate statistical report (PDF) establishing that at least 102,800 (+/- 11,000) Timorese died as a result of human rights violations in Timor-Leste ...

Round-up

Benetech's Human Rights Data Analysis Group Publishes 2010 Analysis of Human Rights Violations in Five Countries Analysis of Uncovered Government Data from Guatemala and Chad Clarifies History and Supports Criminal Prosecutions By Ann Harrison The past year of research by the Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) has supported criminal prosecutions and uncovered the truth about political violence in Guatemala, Iran, Colombia, Chad and Liberia. On today's celebration of the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, HRDAG invites the international community to engage scientifically defensible methodologies that ...

News Wrap: U.N. Reports 60,000 Dead in Syria Since Civil War Began Two Years Ago


Multiple Systems Estimation: Does it Really Work?

<< Previous post, MSE: Stratification and Estimation Q15. Are there other MSE models one might use with human rights data? Q16. Is it possible to use MSE to model non-lethal human rights violations? Q17. I am concerned about using MSE with my data, because the datasets were gathered by opposing organizations. Victims who were reported to an NGO were very unlikely to be reported to state sources, but also very likely to be reported to religious organizations. Won't that cause the overlaps between the NGO list and the state list to be artificially low, and the overlaps between the NGO list and the church list to be artificially high? Does ...

HRDAG Retreat 2014

Ten data nerds gathered in a large hilltop beach house to analyze counts of killings from several war-torn countries. The time was January 16-20, 2014, the place was near San Francisco, the agenda was packed, and I was excited to be there. Having defended my dissertation at Carnegie Mellon University just days before, I had often supposed that my thesis on a generalization of log-linear models for capture-recapture might serve little other purpose than to fill a line on my curriculum vitae. This perception faded after a mid-2013 discussion with Patrick convinced me that HRDAG's data challenges could easily be the best match to my research ...

Data on Kosovo Killings

The data on killings in Kosovo are in four files. All of the files are comma-delimited ASCII. The fields in each file are described below. If you use these data on Kosovo killings, 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.).” Patrick Ball, Wendy Betts, Fritz Scheuren, Jana Dudukovich, and Jana Asher. (2002). AAAS/ABA-CEELI/Human Rights Data ...

USA

HRDAG’s analysis and expertise continues to deepen the national conversation about police violence and criminal justice reform in the United States. In 2015 we began by considering undocumented victims of police violence, relying on the same methodological approach we’ve tested internationally for decades. Shortly after, we examined “predictive policing” software, and demonstrated the ways that racial bias is baked into the algorithms. Following our partners’ lead, we next considered the impact of bail, and found that setting bail increases the likelihood of a defendant being found guilty. We then broadened our investigations to examine ...

MEDIA MISREPRESENTATIONS OF THE CAVR REPORT

Press release from the Technical Secretariat of the Commission for Reception, Truth, and Reconciliation (CAVR) MEDIA MISREPRESENTATIONS OF THE CAVR REPORT Although not yet officially released, the 2500 page CAVR Report 'Chega!' has been the subject of several prominent reports in the media based on leaked versions of the Executive Summary and particularly its section on Recommendations. Stories on the Report have been carried by AFP, AP, the Japan Times, the Singapore Straits Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Lusa,Timor-Leste press and Bali Times - to name some. Regrettably some of these stories contained serious misrepresentations of the Report which ...

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 ...

Reflections: A Simple Plan

I got an email from my superheroic PhD adviser in June 2006: Would I be interested in relocating to Palo Alto for six months in order to work with Patrick Ball at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group? (She'd gotten a grant and would cover my stipend.) Since I'd spent the last several months in New Haven wrestling ineffectually with giant, brain-melting methodological problems, I said yes immediately. The plan with my adviser was simple: I'd digitize the ancient, multiply-photocopied pages of data from the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador, combine them with two other datasets, match across all the records, and produce reliable ...

Reflections: Challenging Tasks and Meticulous Defenders

I have made it my personal objective to amplify HRDAG's message of being extra careful and scientifically rigorous with human rights data.

FAQs on Predictive Policing and Bias

Last month Significance magazine published an article on the topic of predictive policing and police bias, which I co-authored with William Isaac. Since then, we've published a blogpost about it and fielded a few recurring questions. Here they are, along with our responses. Do your findings still apply given that PredPol uses crime reports rather than arrests as training data? Because this article was meant for an audience that is not necessarily well-versed in criminal justice data and we were under a strict word limit, we simplified language in describing the data. The data we used is a version of the Oakland Police Department’s crime report...

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 ...

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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