blogposts describing work in GT

Quantitative Research at the AHPN Guatemala

In early 2006 I joined the Historical Archive of the National Police (Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, or AHPN) without knowing the impact it would have on my future. I started with cleaning, organizing and classifying documents—and learning, with other colleagues, what a historical archive is and how it works. By April of that year, parallel to these learning processes, I was selected along with 20 other people to begin work on the challenging Quantitative Research project. I started as a "coder," transferring key content from documents into a datab...

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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 ...

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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.

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Hat-Tip from Guatemala Judges on HRDAG Evidence

We welcome the verdict of a week ago by Judges Barrios, Bustamante, and Xitumul in the conviction of General Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity. Their 718-page written opinion contains many compelling arguments, findings, and conclusions. But the section we at HRDAG are most interested in is the one on page 245 (see original, below), where Patrick's testimony is referred to. (more…)

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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…)

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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 ...

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HRDAG and the Trial of José Efraín Ríos Montt

At some point in the next week, HRDAG's executive director, Patrick Ball, will be providing expert testimony in the trial of General José Efraín Ríos Montt, the de-facto president of Guatemala in 1982-1983. Gen. Ríos is being tried on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. (His military intelligence director, Gen. Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez is also on trial.) Patrick will testify on approximately April 15-18, 2013, and he may begin as early as this Friday, April 12. The trial opened on March 20, 2013, in the Supreme Court building in Guatemala City. ...

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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.