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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 ...

Killings of Social Movement Leaders in Colombia

Using multiple system estimation, we estimate the total population of social movement leaders killed in Colombia during 2018.

Learning a Modular, Auditable and Reproducible Workflow

The modular nature of the workflow and use of Git allowed us to work on different parts of the project from across the country.

Covid-19 Research and Resources

HRDAG is identifying and interpreting the best science we can find to shed light on the global crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus, about which we still know so little. Right now, most of the data on the virus SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19, the condition caused by the virus, are incomplete and unrepresentative, which means that there is a great deal of uncertainty. But making sense of imperfect datasets is what we do. HRDAG is contributing to a better understanding with explainers, essays, and original research, and we are highlighting trustworthy resources for those who want to dig deeper. Papers and articles by HRDAG .ugb-bbeb275 .ugb-blo...

Film: Solving for X

Solving for X documents Patrick's team as they travel to Guatemala, Kosovo, and Liberia, helping human rights supporters apply sophisticated computer analysis to human rights events.

Why raw data doesn't support analysis of violence

This morning I got a query from a journalist asking for our data from the report we published yesterday. The journalist was hoping to create an interactive infographic to track the number of deaths in the Syrian conflict over time. Our data would not support an analysis like the one proposed, so I wrote this reply. We can't send you these data because they would be misleading—seriously misleading—for the purpose you describe. Here's why: What we have is a list of documented deaths, in essence, a highly non-random sample, though a very big one. We like bigger samples because we think that they must be closer to true. The mathematical justificat...

HRDAG’s Year in Review: 2020

In 2020, HRDAG provided clarity on issues related to the pandemic, police misconduct, and more.

Estimating the Number of SARS-CoV-2 Infections and the Impact of Mitigation Policies

This Harvard Data Science Review article uses the least unreliable source of pandemic data: reported deaths.

Protecting the Privacy of Whistle-Blowers: The Staten Island Files

HRDAG built a machine-learning tool to strip the raw data of any potentially identifying information such as names and court case numbers. There was no "acceptable error rate."

String matching for governorate information in unstructured text

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Help Us Advance Justice And Human Rights Your donations enable HRDAG to use data science and help our partners answer important questions about human rights and patterns of mass violence. Or Write a Check If you prefer to donate by check, please make it payable to: “Community Partners for HRDAG” Mail it to: Community Partners P. O. Box 741265 Los Angeles, CA 90074-1265

Reflections: Pivotal Moments in Freetown

The summer of 2002 in Washington, DC, was steamy and hot, which is how I remember my introduction to HRDAG. I had begun working with them, while they were still at AAAS, in the late spring, learning all about their core concepts: duplicate reporting and MSE, controlled vocabularies, inter-rater reliability, data models and more. The days were long, with a second shift more often than not running late into the evening. In addition to all the learning, I also helped with matching for the Chad project – that is, identifying multiple records of the same violation – back when matching was done by hand. But it was not long after I arrived in Washington ...

HRDAG Welcomes New Staff, Interns and Fellow

HRDAG is delighted to announce five additions to our team: one new staff member, three summer interns, and one fellow.

Lessons at HRDAG: Holding Public Institutions Accountable

Principled Data Processing is a way to prove to someone, usually yourself, that what you did was right.

Quantifying Police Misconduct in Louisiana

HRDAG contributes to the project by helping to classify, filter, extract, and standardize the records so that they can be useful in the database.

UN Human Rights Office estimates more than 306,000 civilians were killed over 10 years in Syria conflict

This new report by the United Nations Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights builds on three prior analyses and new statistical analysis by HRDAG on killings in Syria.


We work around the world Here’s more information about How We Choose Projects.    

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 ...

Lies, Damned Lies and Official Statistics

This essay in the Health and Human Rights Journal addresses attempts to undermine Covid-19 data collection.

How many people disappeared on 17–19 May 2009 in Sri Lanka?

Patrick Ball and Frances Harrison (2018). How many people disappeared on 17–19 May 2009 in Sri Lanka? Human Rights Data Analysis Group. 12 December 2018.© 2018 HRDAG. Creative Commons.

Patrick Ball and Frances Harrison (2018). How many people disappeared on 17–19 May 2009 in Sri Lanka? Human Rights Data Analysis Group. 12 December 2018.© 2018 HRDAG. Creative Commons.

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.