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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 ...

Revisiting the analysis of event size bias in the Iraq Body Count

(This post is co-authored by Patrick Ball and Megan Price) In a recent article in the SAIS Review of International Affairs, we wrote about "event size bias," the problem that events of different sizes have different probabilities of being reported. In this case, the size of an event is defined by the number of reported victims. Our concern is that not all violent (in this case homicide) events are recorded, that is, some events will have zero sources. Our theory is that events with fewer victims will receive less coverage than events with more victims, and that a higher proportion of small events will have zero sources relative to large events. The ...

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 ...

CIIDH Data – Value Labels

Version date: 2000.01.29 Current version: ATV20.1 Patrick Ball & Herbert F. Spirer v_ind -------------+----------- Victim | Ethnic | category | | Freq. -------------+----------- 1 Indigenous | 2,722 2 Ladino | 1,014 3 Unknown | 13,687 | Total | 17,423 -------------+----------- v_sex ----------+----------- Victim | Sex | Freq. ----------+----------- 4 F | 2,001 5 M | 11,445 6 d | 3,977 | Total | 17,423 ----------+----------- v_eth -------------+----------- Victim | Maternal | language ...

Strong Crypto Safeguards Human Rights Data

Strong cryptography can safeguard critical human rights data from repressive governments that steal data in order to persecute citizens. When vulnerable citizens dare to bear witness by naming perpetrators, their crimes, and their victims, the sensitive identifying information about those witnesses must be protected. In the late 1990s, HRDAG’s Director of Research, Patrick Ball, began his work with encrypted data while documenting crimes committed by the Guatemalan national police—and strong cryptography has remained critical to all of HRDAG’s work. hr {border-width:20px;} .main-container p a{color:#f98d00 !important;} h2 {font-we...

Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India: A Preliminary Quantitative Analysis

Romesh Silva, Jasmine Marwaha and Jeff Klingner. “Violent Deaths and Enforced Disappearances During the Counterinsurgency in Punjab, India: A Preliminary Quantitative Analysis,” A Joint Report by Benetech’s Human Rights Data Analysis Group & Ensaaf, Inc. January, 2009.


Measuring lethal counterinsurgency violence in Amritsar District, India using a referral-based sampling technique

Romesh Silva, Jeff Klingner, and Scott Weikart. “Measuring lethal counterinsurgency violence in Amritsar District, India using a referral-based sampling technique.” In JSM Proceedings, Social Statistics Section. Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association, 2010. © 201o JSM. All rights reserved.


When It Comes to Human Rights, There Are No Online Security Shortcuts

Patrick Ball. When It Comes to Human Rights, There Are No Online Security Shortcuts, Wired op-ed, August 10, 2012. Wired.com © 2013 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.


Measuring the Mortality Consequences of Armed Conflict in Amritsar, India: A New Approach to the Indirect Sampling of Conflict-Related Mortality

Romesh Silva and Jeff Klingner. “Measuring the Mortality Consequences of Armed Conflict in Amritsar, India: A New Approach to the Indirect Sampling of Conflict-Related Mortality.” Poster presented at the Population Association of America 2011 Annual Meeting. © 2011 Benetech. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.


Collecting Sensitive Human Rights Data in the Field: A Case Study from Amritsar, India.

Romesh Silva and Jasmine Marwaha. “Collecting Sensitive Human Rights Data in the Field: A Case Study from Amritsar, India.” In JSM Proceedings, Social Statistics Section. Alexandria, VA. © 2011 American Statistical Association. All rights reserved.


Trump’s “extreme-vetting” software will discriminate against immigrants “Under a veneer of objectivity,” say experts

Kristian Lum, lead statistician at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (and letter signatory), fears that “in order to flag even a small proportion of future terrorists, this tool will likely flag a huge number of people who would never go on to be terrorists,” and that “these ‘false positives’ will be real people who would never have gone on to commit criminal acts but will suffer the consequences of being flagged just the same.”


Free Software

Patrick Ball (2005). “Free Software,” in The Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics. ed. by Carl Mitcham. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale.


Human freedom and free software: Why choices about technology matter to human rights advocates.

Patrick Ball and Miguel Cruz (2003). “Human freedom and free software: Why choices about technology matter to human rights advocates.”


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  

Guatemala

Collecting and Protecting Human Rights Data in Guatemala (1991-2013) In 1996, a peace accord brokered by the United Nations ended 36 years of internal armed conflict in Guatemala. During the hostilities, non-governmental organizations asked for technical support from the scientific community in the project to gather the experiences of witnesses and victims in databases. From 1993 to 1999 Dr. Patrick Ball, then at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), worked with the International Center for Human Rights Research in Guatemala (CIIDH) to collect and organize evidence of more than 43,000 human rights violations. The ...

10MM Images from Guatemala’s National Police Go Online: Disappearances, STD Experiments, More


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 ...

Martus: Software for Human Rights Groups


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 ...

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 ...

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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