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New results for the identification of municipalities with clandestine graves in Mexico

The goal of this project is identify Mexican municipalities with a high probability of having clandestine graves. Knowing where to search will help to create better public programs regarding missing persons in Mexico.

Data on Kosovo Migration

[popup citation="For migrations: Ball, Patrick. (2000). AAAS/ Human Rights Data Analysis Group database of migrations in Albania and Kosovo. For killings: Patrick Ball, Wendy Betts, Fritz Scheuren, Jana Dudukovich, and Jana Asher. (2002). AAAS/ABA-CEELI/Human Rights Data Analysis Group database of killings in Kosovo. For other data: Human Rights Data Analysis Group. (2002). Database of NATO airstrikes, geographic coding, and KLA activity in Kosovo."] The data on migration from Kosovo are in seven files. All of the files are comma-delimited ASCII. The fields in each file are described below. For more information, see Policy or Panic, section A1, pp. ...

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 ...

Liberia

In July 2009, The Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) 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. (This work was conducted by HRDAG while with Benetech.) 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." The report is included as an annex to the final ...

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 ...

IRR: Agreement Among Coders is Key

For years I have been engaged in a quantitative study at Guatemala’s Historic Archive of the National Police, or AHPN. (See the blogposts below.) In this study coders collect data on sheets of paper according to criteria established and explained in manuals. But when collecting data, there’s always room for human error—this is why the validity of the study hinges on verifying that coders use the correct criteria. It is important to mention that the mainstay of coding is the use of a controlled vocabulary. A controlled vocabulary gives analysts a framework, or frame of reference, when converting qualitative information into categories ...

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 ...

India FAQs

Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India: A Preliminary Quantitative Analysis Frequenty Asked Questions If there is so much data available, why can't you make claims about the number of people killed by security forces during the Punjab counterinsurgency campaign? Haven't Punjab Police and government bodies already documented the number of people killed and "illegally cremated?" Why doesn't this suffice? What has been the impact of quantitative studies of human rights violations in other regions? What impact do these findings have in the Punjab context? Why did you undertake this study? What are the ...

Multiple Systems Estimation: Collection, Cleaning and Canonicalization of Data

<< Previous post: MSE: The Basics Q3. What are the steps in an MSE analysis? Q4. What does data collection look like in the human rights context? What kind of data do you collect? Q5. [In depth] Do you include unnamed or anonymous victims in the matching process? Q6. What do you mean by "cleaning" and "canonicalization?" Q7. [In depth] What are some of the challenges of canonicalization? (more…)

Locating Hidden Graves in Mexico

For more than 10 years, and with regularity, Mexican authorities have been discovering mass graves, known as fosas clandestinas, in which hundreds of bodies and piles of bones have been found. The casualties are attributed broadly to the country’s “drug war,” although the motivations and perpetrators behind the mass murders are often unknown. Recently, HRDAG collaborated with two partners in Mexico—Data Cívica and Programa de Derechos Humanos of the Universidad Iberoamericana—to model the probability of identifying a hidden grave in each county (municipio). The model uses an set of independent variables and data about graves from 2013 ...

Patrick Ball Honored with Degree at Claremont Graduate University

We’re happy to announce that our executive director, Patrick Ball, has been presented an honorary degree from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. University President Deborah Freund presented the degree to Patrick at the university’s 88th annual commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16, 2015. The degree conferred was Doctor of Science honoris causa. “We at CGU are thrilled that Patrick Ball accepted our Honorary Degree invitation and joined us for commencement,” said Thomas Horan, CGU Professor and Director, Center for Information Systems and Technology. “Patrick’s work stands as a model for conducting first-r...

Syria: No word on four abducted activists

Razan Zatouneh is an esteemed colleague of ours, and we are one of 57 organizations demanding immediate release for her and the three other human rights defenders still missing. A year on, no information on Douma Four The prominent Syrian human rights defenders Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wa’el Hamada and Nazem Hamadi – the Douma Four—remain missing a year after their abduction, 57 organizations said today. The four were abducted in Duma, a city near Damascus under the control of armed opposition groups. They should be released immediately, the groups said. On 9 December 2013, at about 10:40 pm, a group of armed men stormed into the ...

Rapid response to: Civilian deaths from weapons used in the Syrian conflict

On November 4, 2015, the BMJ published our "Rapid Response" to Civilian deaths from weapons used in the Syrian conflict (BMJ 2015;351:h4736). The response was co-authored by Megan Price, Anita Gohdes, Jay Aronson (Carnegie Mellon University, Center for Human Rights Science), and Christopher McNaboe (Carter Center, Syria Conflict Mapping Project). We have three concerns about this article. First, the article apportions responsibility for casualties to particular perpetrator organizations based on a single snapshot of territorial control that ignores the numerous (and well-documented) changes in this phenomenon over time. Second, combining Syrian ...

Mexico

HRDAG and our partners Data Cívica and the Iberoamericana University created a machine-learning model to predict which counties (municipios) in Mexico have the highest probability of unreported hidden graves. The predictions help advocates to bring public attention and government resources to search for the disappeared in the places where they are most likely to be found. Context For more than ten years, Mexican authorities have been discovering hidden graves (fosas clandestinas). The casualties are attributed broadly—and sometimes inaccurately—to the country’s “drug war,” but the motivations and perpetrators behind the mass murders ...

First Things First: Assessing Data Quality Before Model Quality.

Anita Gohdes and Megan Price (2013). Journal of Conflict Resolution, Volume 57 Issue 6 December 2013. © 2013 Journal of Conflict Resolution. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of SAGE. [online abstract]DOI: 10.1177/0022002712459708.


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 ...

USA

Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers in May, 2020, we watched the United States erupt in sorrow and anger. But the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery were only the most recent in America’s long history of violence against black bodies. In June, our director of research Patrick Ball refreshed an article he wrote in 2016 for Granta, “Violence in Blue,” which was largely a response to the demonstrations demanding justice for the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In the new introduction, Patrick writes, “This cannot be acceptable in democracy.” For the last ...

HRDAG Retreat 2016

What do you get when you bring seven statisticians, one quantitative political scientist, a writer, a computer scientist, and an administrator together for four days in a vacation rental on California’s Russian River? A lot of code, a technical paper and book chapter revised, another paper started, a great hike in the Redwoods, descriptions of food poisoning and crash landings in war zones, and a lot of talk about feelings. Did I mention feelings? On the first evening of the annual retreat of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, executive director Megan Price asked us to go around the room and share how we were feeling on arrival. The request ...

The Great Lessons in Research at the Archive

Doing an investigation on the contents of the Archive brought with it three major lessons. The first big lesson was the constant movement (nothing was static), The second great lesson was that everything evolved (the changes were a constant). The third major lesson was to discover how two institutions can work together while geographically far apart. The constant movement As there were other processes being carried out at the Archive, everything was in constant movement. In other words, one day the documents were in X location and tomorrow they may be in location Y or dispersed in multiple locations. This made it impossible to know with certai...

Violence in Blue

Patrick Ball. 2016. Granta 134: 4 March 2016. © Granta Publications. All rights reserved.


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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