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UN Raises Estimate of Dead in Syrian Conflict to 191,000

Nick Cumming-Bruce of the New York Times writes about the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Right’s release of HRDAG’s third report on reported killings in the Syrian conflict.
From the article:
In its third report on Syria commissioned by the United Nations, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group identified 191,369 deaths from the start of the conflict in March 2011 to April 2014, more than double the 92,901 deaths cited in their last report, which covered the first two years of the conflict.
“Tragically, it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict,” Ms. Pillay said in a statement that accompanied the report, which observed that many killings in Syria were undocumented.


Counting The Dead: How Statistics Can Find Unreported Killings

Ball analyzed the data reporters had collected from a variety of sources – including on-the-ground interviews, police records, and human rights groups – and used a statistical technique called multiple systems estimation to roughly calculate the number of unreported deaths in three areas of the capital city Manila.

The team discovered that the number of drug-related killings was much higher than police had reported. The journalists, who published their findings last month in The Atlantic, documented 2,320 drug-linked killings over an 18-month period, approximately 1,400 more than the official number. Ball’s statistical analysis, which estimated the number of killings the reporters hadn’t heard about, found that close to 3,000 people could have been killed – more than three times the police figure.

Ball said there are both moral and technical reasons for making sure everyone who has been killed in mass violence is counted.

“The moral reason is because everyone who has been murdered should be remembered,” he said. “A terrible thing happened to them and we have an obligation as a society to justice and to dignity to remember them.”


Analysis of Homicide Patterns in Colombia

Last week Forensis, the Colombian National Institute of Forensic Medicine’s flagship publication, published the first of our analyses of homicide patterns in Colombia. Authored by HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball and UN colleague Michael Reed Hurtado, “Cuentas y mediciones de la criminalidad y de la violencia” (pages 529-545) explores, as the title suggests, the quality of “truth” contained within crime registries. Citing the problem of partial data, missing data, and inherent design bias, Patrick and Michael write that no register, official or unofficial, can present a true reflection of what has really happened. This publication...

Evaluation of the Kosovo Memory Book at Pristina

On February 4, 2015, at the National Archive in Pristina, Kosovo, HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball gave a presentation on research (done with  colleague Jule Krüger) about the database of the Kosovo Memory Book (KMB). The KMB is part of the Humanitarian Law Centre in Belgrade and Pristina). In this photo, Patrick is speaking, and HLC-Belgrade executive director emeritus Natasa Kandic and Professor Michael Spagat are at the table with him. At the laptop between Spagat and Patrick is Laza Lazarevic of HLC; he is part of the KMB team. About 130 people attended—a terrific response. Presentation on the research behind the Evaluation of the ...

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 ...

Chad – FAQs

State Coordinated Violence in Chad under Hissène HabrĂ© -- [Français]      

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 Benetech®, 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 ...

When Data Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story

This blog is a part of International Justice Monitor’s technology for truth series, which focuses on the use of technology for evidence and features views from key proponents in the field. As highlighted by other posts in this series, emerging technology is increasing the amount and type of information available, in some contexts, to criminal and other investigations. Much of what is produced by these emerging technologies (Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube videos, text messages) falls in the category we refer to as “found” data. By “found” data we mean data not generated for a specific investigation, but instead, that is generated for ...

Learning Day by Day: Quantitative Research at the AHPN

Working at the Historic Archive of the National Police (AHPN) of Guatemala, there are many skills I learned on the job. My many years of work on the team that studies the recovered documents have been like a custom-made course in how to do quantitative research. The Archive documents I study are the result of 36 years of creation during civil war (1960 to 1996). Many of these documents are simply administrative—but we are able to use them to understand patterns that occurred during the conflict, to get a sense of what mattered to the National Police and what didn’t. Our quantitative research shows us the Police behavior in broad strokes. ...

UN Raises Estimate of Dead in Syrian Conflict to 191,000

Nick Cumming-Bruce of the New York Times writes about the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Right's release of HRDAG's third report on reported killings in the Syrian conflict. From the article: In its third report on Syria commissioned by the United Nations, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group identified 191,369 deaths from the start of the conflict in March 2011 to April 2014, more than double the 92,901 deaths cited in their last report, which covered the first two years of the conflict. “Tragically, it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict,” ...

String matching for governorate information in unstructured text

code{white-space: pre;} pre:not([class]) { background-color: white; } h1 { font-size: 34px; } h1.title { font-size: 38px; } h2 { font-size: 30px; } h3 { font-size: 24px; } h4 { font-size: 18px; } h5 { font-size: 16px; } h6 { font-size: 12px; } .table th:not([align]) { text-align: left; } .main-container { max-width: 940px; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } code { color: inherit; background-color: rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.04); } img { max-width:100%; height: auto; } .tabbed-pane { padding-top: 12px; } .html-widget { margin-bottom: 20px; } button.code-foldin...

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 ...

Tech Corner

The HRDAG Tech Corner is where we collect the deeper and geekier content that we create for the website. Click the accordion blocks below to reveal each of the Tech Corner entries. Sifting Massive Datasets with Machine Learning Principled Data Processing  

Press Release, Timor-Leste, November 2006

Palo Alto, CA, November 12, 2006 –The Benetech® Initiative congratulates the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) and the Timorese people for the official release of the CAVR's final report Chega! in Australia today. The 2,500 page report uncovers previously unknown findings about past human rights abuses in Timor-Leste between 1974 and 1999. In particular, the report uncovers widespread and systematic human rights 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) ...

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...

Funding

HRDAG’s funding comes from private, international donors:  the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society Foundations, an anonymous U.S.-based private foundation, Ford Foundation, The National Endowment for Democracy and individual donors. This funding supports both specific projects, as well as our scientific work generally in human rights data analysis. For the entirety of its existence, HRDAG has been a project of non-profit organizations, first at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and then at Benetech, a non-profit Silicon Valley technology company. In February 2013, HRDAG became ...

HRDAG and the Digital Commons

One of the three main goals of HRDAG is education and outreach, and to that end we use Creative Commons licenses for all of our blogposts and, whenever possible, for our publications. Using a Creative Commons license makes it clear that educators are free to use HRDAG's publications, in their entirety, and with the peace of mind that they are doing so with our blessing. Also, the use of the Creative Commons license allows us to participate in and encourage the creation of a digital commons, which we feel helps to advance another one of our goals, the creation of knowledge. We feel that it’s important to offer up our publications for use and reuse ...

Guatemala’s Bol de la Cruz Found Guilty

Today Guatemala’s former national police chief Colonel Héctor Rafael Bol de la Cruz was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in the 1984 kidnapping and disappearance of 27-year-old student union leader Fernando Garcia, who was last seen when officers detained him outside his home. Along with Bol de la Cruz, former senior police officer Jorge Gomez was also tried; he received a sentence of 40 years in prison. That verdict comes in part because of testimony this month by HRDAG’s Patrick Ball, who served as an expert witness and presented data analysis done with colleague Daniel Guzmán to assess the flow of thousands of ...

Ten Years and Counting in Guatemala

We have accomplished so much in the last 10 years at the Historical Archive of the National Police. And yet, despite the efforts, dedication, and commitment of each person who since 2006 has worked in the AHPN, we still can not say “mission accomplished.” In 10 years the environment at the Archive has changed so much and become so full of life. Where the building once sheltered unknown stories, over time some of those stories have been revealed. But Guatemala has a long way to go in letting the world get to know more deeply about the secrets within the documents stored there. Guatemalans and the rest of the world have a very important ...

Sri Lanka

Ten years after the war ended in Sri Lanka, we still don’t know to the nearest ten thousand how many people perished. The estimates for the death toll for the last five months of the war alone vary between 7000 and 147,000. In 2011, the UN said it thought approximately 40,000 civilians had died; then in 2012 an internal UN report estimated it was at least 70,000. Population data from World Bank and UN sources indicated that more than 100,000 Tamils living in the conflict areas in the north have not returned home after the war. HRDAG has provided technical assistance to a broad range of non-governmental human rights organizations in Sri ...

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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