25 results for author: Patrick Ball

The Day We Fight Back

Today, February 11, is the day of national protests against the National Security Administration. The critical threat is mass surveillance. In the words of The Day We Fight Back, “Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.” (more…)

Ouster of Guatemala’s Attorney General

We were surprised and disappointed to learn that our colleague Claudia Paz y Paz has had her term as Guatemala’s attorney general cut short. The nation’s Constitutional Court ruled on 6 February that her four-year term will end this May, instead of in December. (She was appointed in December 2010, replacing an attorney general who was appointed in May 2010.) During her term, she put four generals from Guatemala’s civil war on the stand for charges of crimes against humanity and genocide, including General José Efraín Ríos Montt, who ruled from 1982 to 1983. We were fortunate to work with her on that trial and to witness the handing down of a ...

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...

Historic verdict in Guatemala—Gen.Efraín Ríos Montt found guilty

I've been working with various projects in Guatemala to document mass violence since 1993, so in 2011, when Claudia Paz y Paz asked me to revisit the analysis I did for the Commission for Historical Clarification examining the differential mortality rates due to homicide for indigenous and non-indigenous people in the Ixil region, I was delighted. We have far better data processing and statistical methods than we had in 1998, plus much more data. I think the resulting analysis is a conservative lower bound on total homicides of indigenous people. (more…)


As of today, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) is an independent* non-profit! It's been a long time coming, and we're delighted to have gotten to this point. HRDAG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that applies rigorous science to the analysis of human rights violations around the world; for more information, see our About Us page. Benetech has spun out the scientific and statistical part of the Human Rights Program to HRDAG. The spinout includes (as staff) me -- Patrick Ball -- and Dr Megan Price, as well as our many part-time scientific and field consultants (a list is here). The software and technology component of our work -- ...

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.