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As scientists, we work to support our partners—the advocates and human rights defenders who “speak truth to power”—by producing unbiased, scientific results that bring clarity to human rights violence and by ensuring that the “truth” is the most accurate truth possible.

We are scientists, not advocates. As scientists, we work to support our partners—the advocates and human rights defenders who “speak truth to power”—by producing unbiased, scientific results that bring clarity to human rights violence and by ensuring that the “truth” is the most accurate truth possible. While our partners—international and local human rights groups—advance human rights by listening to and amplifying the voices of victims of human rights violations, by shaping the questions we address and by guiding the data collection, we use technical and scientific expertise to analyze the invaluable data they collect. With this data, we use rigorous quantitative reasoning to understand patterns of violence, and even to make statistical estimates of events that are not in the data.

For our projects, data come from many sources. We have used individual testimonies, legal depositions, probability surveys, administrative records from morgues and cemeteries, exhumation reports, operational records from a prison, career information on military and police officers, eyewitness interviews, and official customs and immigration records. We work with partners to help them make decisions about the databases and systems they might use to collect and manage data; our primary focus, however, is on the rigorous scientific analysis of our partners’ data.

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