15 results for author: Megan Price


Reflections: A Love Letter to HRDAG

In November 2008 I tumbled out of the airport in San Francisco and climbed into Patrick Ball’s VW Golf. Vijaya Tripathi turned around from the front seat and said, “I’ve got gum, bottled water, and Dramamine. Which would you like?” Over his shoulder, Patrick asked, “If you had to die in a car crash, would you rather fall off a cliff or into the ocean?” I wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?” Fortunately, my childhood in hilly West Virginia prepared my stomach for the dark, twisty path to the house overlooking the ocean in Bolinas. I entered the warm kitchen to a chorus of “We’re so glad you’re here!” “I have so ...

HRDAG and #GivingTuesday

Help us hold human rights violators accountable!

Our Thoughts on #metoo

Violence against women in all its forms is a human rights violation. Most of our HRDAG colleagues are women, and for us, unfortunately, recent campaigns such as #metoo are unsurprising.

Our Thoughts on the Violence in Charlottesville

This week, we join our friends and colleagues in feeling horrified by the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. As we have for the past 26 years, we stand with the victims of violence and support human rights and dignity for all. We spend our careers observing and documenting mass political violence across the world. The demands by the so-called “alt-right” to normalize racism and social exclusion are all too familiar to us. At HRDAG, our work is always guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). We reaffirm our commitment to these principles, in particular that the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and ...

Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends, This has been quite a year, and I don’t just mean the recent political events in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Thanks to your ongoing support, HRDAG has a number of accomplishments to be proud of this year: Patrick’s testimony in the trial of Hissene Habré for crimes against humanity was cited by the judges three times in their determination of guilt. We launched a book describing ten years of collaborative work with the Historic Archive of the National Police in Guatemala. We contributed quantitative analyses to Amnesty International’s report on deaths in Syrian custody, and published an ...

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 ...

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 ...

HRDAG Offers New R Package – dga

Much of the work we do at HRDAG involves estimating the number of undocumented deaths using a statistical technique called multiple systems estimation (MSE, described in more detail here). One of our goals is to make this class of methods more broadly available to human rights researchers. In particular, we are finding that Bayesian approaches are extremely valuable for MSE. Accordingly, we are pleased to offer a new R package called dga (“decomposable graphs approach”) that performs Bayesian model averaging for MSE. The main function in this package implements a model created by David Madigan and Jeremy York. This model was designed to ...

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 ...

Seeking the Truth with Documentation

The need to establish the truth around events is central to goals of transitional justice, particularly securing accountability, establishing legitimate and effective justice mechanisms, and laying the foundations for a peaceful society. Documentation to provide verifiable and widely accepted accounts of such events is a critical component of establishing this truth, or the multiple truths that may exist for a population. It is difficult to overstate the important role of documentation in transitional justice efforts. If some of what follows sounds familiar, echoing points of previous posts, it is no coincidence.  Documentation, in a word, is the ...

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

As an organization that uses science to advocate for human rights, the goals and issues represented by Ada Lovelace Day are very near and dear to our hearts.  Additionally, we are lucky to work with and be advised by some pretty kick-ass ladies in STEM (see our People page to learn more about these amazing women (and men)). I brainstormed a list of women I could write about, as Finding Ada suggests we celebrate today by blogging about a STEM heroine.  I considered Anita Borg (she has her own institute!), who advocated tirelessly for women in computer science.  I thought about Sally Wyatt, keynote speaker and organizer of the fascinating workshop...

Counting Casualties in Syria

Today the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report prepared by me and my colleagues describing the current state of reported killings in the Syrian Arab Republic from the beginning of the conflict in March 2011 through April 2013.  (UN news release here.) This report is an update of work we published in January 2013.  This updated analysis includes records from eight data sources documenting a total of 92,901 reported killings. Our analysis begins with 263,055 total records reported by the eight data sources that include sufficient identifying information (name, date, and location*) to conduct ...

Trips to and from Guatemala

HRDAG has been working with the Historic Archive of the National Police in Guatemala (hereafter, the Archive) for the past seven years.  The Archive contains a treasure trove of data recorded and kept by the Guatemalan National Police over the past century.  When the Archive was first discovered in 2005, researchers there immediately recognized both the value and fragility of the tens of millions of documents.  As a result, they reached out to HRDAG, and we reached out to volunteers at Westat to devise a plan to estimate the contents of the entire Archive as quickly as possible in case the documents were destroyed or access to them was limited.  ...

Convenience Samples: What they are, and what they should (and should not) be used for

As noted on our Core Concepts page, we spend a lot of time worrying about the ways data are used to make claims about human rights violations.  This is because inaccurate statistics can damage the credibility of human rights claims.  Analyses of records of human rights violations are used to guide policy decisions, determine resource allocation for interventions, and inform transitional justice mechanisms.  It is vital that such analyses are accurate. Unfortunately, all too often these decisions are based, inappropriately, on analyses of a single convenience sample. (more…)

Transitional Justice in Syria: Accountability and Reconciliation Conference

I spent last weekend in Istanbul at an excellent conference organized by the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS). The conference included numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Syria as well as international human rights researchers and advocates. Families of victims told their stories, data collection groups discussed the challenges, and need, to document violations, transitional justice experts worried about infrastructure such as the police force and judicial system, and local leaders pledged to work together for peace. I was invited to speak about HRDAG's recent report examining killings in Syria documented by ...