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Social Science Scholars Award for HRDAG Book

In March 2013, I entered a contest called the California Series in Public Anthropology International Competition, which solicits book proposals from social science scholars who write about how social scientists create meaningful change. The winners of the Series are awarded a publishing contract with the University of California Press for a book targeted to undergraduates. With the encouragement of my HRDAG colleagues Patrick Ball and Megan Price, I proposed a book about the work of HRDAG researchers entitled, Everybody Counts: How Scientists Document the Unknown Victims of Political Violence. Earlier this month, I was contacted by the Series judges ...

Reflections: Growing and Learning in Guatemala

As a woman, mother and sociologist who is curious about the patterns of our political past in Guatemala, I feel privileged to know and work with the HRDAG team. Collaborating and learning from people like Patrick, Megan, Suzanne, Beatriz and Tamy has been an invaluable gift. I have discovered many things, both human and academic. For example, I’ve learned new ways of seeing what seemed everyday and simple, to discover that not only do the social sciences and statistics work hand in hand, but that they are critical for understanding Guatemala’s reality. Twenty years ago, on 29 December, 1996, Guatemala made history by signing the Guatemala Peace ...

Machine learning is being used to uncover the mass graves of Mexico’s missing

“Patrick Ball, HRDAG’s Director of Research and the statistician behind the code, explained that the Random Forest classifier was able to predict with 100% accuracy which counties that would go on to have mass graves found in them in 2014 by using the model against data from 2013. The model also predicted the counties that did not have mass hidden graves found in them, but that show a high likelihood of the possibility. This prediction aspect of the model is the part that holds the most potential for future research.”


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Your tax deductible gift helps us seek justice for victims of human rights violations, hold perpetrators accountable, and strengthen the overall human rights advocacy community. HRDAG is a project of Community Partners, providing us with administrative infrastructure — so we can focus on our mission and work. We are grateful for your (and their) support.

Megan Price Elected Board Member of Tor Project

Today The Tor Project announced that it has elected a new Board of Directors, and among them is HRDAG executive director Megan Price. The Tor Project is a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes online privacy and provides software that helps users opt out of online tracking. Megan and Patrick have long maintained that encryption and privacy are essential for enabling human rights work. Patrick's ideas are described in Monday's FedScoop story about encryption, human rights, and the U.S. State Department. “Human rights groups depend on strong cryptography in order to hold governments accountable," says Patrick. "HRDAG depends on local human ...

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All the Dead We Cannot See

Ball, a statistician, has spent the last two decades finding ways to make the silence speak. He helped pioneer the use of formal statistical modeling, and, later, machine learning—tools more often used for e-commerce or digital marketing—to measure human rights violations that weren’t recorded. In Guatemala, his analysis helped convict former dictator General EfraĂ­n RĂ­os Montt of genocide in 2013. It was the first time a former head of state was found guilty of the crime in his own country.


AI for Human Rights

From the article: “Price described the touchstone of her organization as being a tension between how truth is simultaneously discovered and obscured. HRDAG is at the intersection of this tension; they are consistently participating in science’s progressive uncovering of what is true, but they are accustomed to working in spaces where this truth is denied. Of the many responsibilities HRDAG holds in its work is that of “speaking truth to power,” said Price, “and if that’s what you’re doing, you have to know that your truth stands up to adversarial environments.”


Scanning Documents to Uncover Police Violence

Administrative paperwork generated by police departments can hold evidence of police violence, but can present unique challenges for data processing.

HRDAG Adds Three New Board Members

HRDAG's advisory board has added three new members.

Scraping for Pattern: Protecting Immigrant Rights in Washington State

With HRDAG's help, the University of Washington Center for Human Rights team has been able to analyze the scraped text and search for key words such as “jail” in order to gain insight into where immigration arrests are being made.

Liberia 2009 – Coding Testimony to Determine Accountability for War Crimes

In July 2009, HRDAG concluded a three-year project with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to help clarify Liberia’s violent history and hold perpetrators accountable. A military coup in 1979 sparked 24 years of civil war in Liberia where warring factions subjected civilians to severe human rights abuses. The TRC sought to determine whether these violations represented a systematic pattern or policy. This chapter describes how HRDAG developed a statistical analysis of the more than 17,000 victim and witness statements collected by the TRC and applied Ball’s “Who Did What To Whom?” methodology. HRDAG scientist Kristen ...

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

El cientĂ­fico que usa estadĂ­sticas para encontrar desaparecidos en El Salvador, Guatemala y MĂ©xico

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

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


Deportation Possible for El Salvador’s Gen. García – Supported by HRDAG Analysis

Gen. JosĂ© Guillermo GarcĂ­a, 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. GarcĂ­a’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). ...

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 ...

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…)

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…)

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.


Civil War in Syria: The Internet as a Weapon of War

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, "BĂŒrgerkrieg in Syrien: Das Internet als Kriegswaffe," is in German. Suddeutsche Zeitung Hakan Tanriverdi January 4, 2015 Link to story on SZ Related blogpost (Updated Casualty Count for Syria) Back to Press Room

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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