What is the Security Force Monitor?
The Security Force Monitor works to make police, military and other security forces around the world more transparent and accountable.
Human rights researchers, journalists, advocates, litigators and others engaged in making security forces accountable face a common problem – a lack of clear, detailed information on those forces. Often, answering even simple questions can be difficult:
- Who is in charge of the specialized anti-riot police unit?
- What army unit has jurisdiction over what areas?
- Where did this commander previously serve?
- When was a particular police unit based in a specific city?
There is a vast amount of public information on security forces around the world, but it is unstructured and scattered among a wide variety of sources, making it prohibitively costly for those engaged in public interest work to understand the security forces of a particular country.
The Security Force Monitor aims to solve this problem and aid those working to make police, military and other security forces accountable. The Monitor analyzes and compiles public information to provide data on: the command hierarchy, location, areas of operation, commanders and the other linkages between units – all tracked through time. The Monitor’s mission and technical offerings have been developed to serve, and in consultation with, a wide range of civil society efforts.
To learn more about our journey, read “Why I started Security Force Monitor” by our founder and Director Tony Wilson. In this blog post he traces the development of Security Force Monitor from one-off research into Bahrain’s security structures, to a large-scale data collection initiative that aims to collect data on every human rights relevant security force.
The Security Force Monitor is a project of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute.
Who works at Security Force Monitor?
Tony is the founder and Director of the Security Force Monitor. Prior to launching the Security Force Monitor as a project of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, he worked as a grantmaker with the National Security and Human Rights Campaign at the Open Society Foundations. Previous to this he was an advocate on U.S. government policies towards the Middle East and multilateral engagements at the Open Society Foundations’ Washington Office. He also worked on national security issues at the Center for American Progress and the Ploughshares Fund. He received his Master’s in Security Studies with a concentration in U.S. National Security from Georgetown University and his Bachelor’s in Political Science and History at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tom is a human rights and technology researcher. After studying law at university in the UK, since 1999 he has worked on field investigations of war crimes investigations in Kosovo and Sierra Leone. Since then he has worked with scores of organisations documenting large scale human rights violations in Zimbabwe, Cambodia and others. Tom has also worked for specialised technical and methodological support groups like Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS), leading the development of the first web-based open source tool for documenting human rights violations and Tactical Technology Collective where amongst other things he co-wrote the book Visualising Information for Advocacy. As consultant to others including Global Witness, Open Society Foundations, Institute for Development Studies and mySociety, he has written reports about the dramatic worldwide rise in killings of environmental defenders, the state of technology to assist human rights lawyers and the impact of online freedom of information tools. He is the co-founder of Rudiment, a lab for new approaches in technology for human rights.
Michel E. Manzur
Michel is the Project Associate of the Security Force Monitor project, engaging in research on security forces of various countries and assisting with overall administrative duties. Previously, Michel worked for the Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary and for the Institute for Social Security and Services for State Workers (ISSSTE). Michel also assisted the Mexican Permanent Mission to the United Nations, working closely with the teams in charge of international candidatures and issues regarding the 3rd Committee of the General Assembly. He received his Master’s in Human Rights from Columbia University and his Bachelor’s in International Relations at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City.
Who advises Security Force Monitor?
Security Force Monitor is steered by a founding Advisory Council.
Patrick Ball, PhD (Human Rights Data Analysis Group)
Patrick Ball is Director of Research at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). has spent more than twenty years conducting quantitative analysis for truth commissions, non-governmental organizations, international criminal tribunals, and United Nations missions in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, South Africa, Chad, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Kosovo, Liberia, Perú, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria.
Patrick began working in the human rights field in El Salvador in 1991. From 1993 to 2003, he worked in several capacities in the Science and Human Rights Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he began recruiting colleagues to build HRDAG. From 2003 to 2013 he continued to develop HRDAG from within Benetech, a nonprofit technology company in Silicon Valley. From 2013 through 2015, Patrick was Executive Director of HRDAG; on December 1, 2015, he became the Director of Research.
Patrick provided testimony in two cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the first in the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former President of Serbia. He provided technical advice to the Special Court in Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court. In 2013 he provided expert testimony in Guatemala’s Supreme Court in the trial of General José Efraín Ríos Montt, the de-facto president of Guatemala in 1982-1983. Gen. Ríos was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity; it was the first time ever that a former head of state was found guilty of genocide in his own country.
In September 2015, Patrick provided expert testimony in the trial of former President of Chad, Hissène Habré. HRDAG’s analysis showed that the death rate for political prisoners was much higher than for adult men in Chad: 90 to 540 times higher. On its worst day in the time period for which data were analyzed, the mortality rate was 2.37 deaths per 100 prisoners. During a nine-month period in 1986-1987, the mortality rate in Habré’s prisons was higher than that of US POWs in Japanese custody during World War II.
In 2015, the Claremont Graduate University awarded Patrick a Doctor of Science (honoris causa). In 2014, Patrick was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. In 2005, the Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded Patrick with their Pioneer Award. In June 2004, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) gave him the Eugene Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics, and in 2002, he received a Special Achievement Award from the Social Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association. He is a Fellow at the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law of the University of California-Berkeley; and a Research Fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Human Rights Science. He has been profiled by The New York Times Magazine, Wired, Foreign Policy, Salon.com, and the Christian Science Monitor, and he has been featured in a PBS film.
Patrick received his bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University, and his doctorate from the University of Michigan.
Scott Edwards (Amnesty International)
Scott Edwards is a Senior Crisis Adviser for Amnesty International. He has written and consulted extensively on complex humanitarian crises, protection, and armed conflict, and notable publications include “The Chaos of Forced Displacement,” advancing a computational model of forced migration for use in operational planning. Current professional activity focuses on the development of early warning mechanisms for humanitarian crises, as well as the practical use of geospatial technologies for human rights compliance monitoring and research. Scott previously served as Amnesty’s Advocacy Director for Africa, and Director of the Science for Human Rights Program, and is a Professorial Lecturer at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs. He completed his doctoral work in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, focusing on causes and consequences of violent political conflict.
José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez (Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos)
José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez holds a degree in Law from the Ibero-American University in Mexico and a PhD in Law from the University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain. He is a member of the National System of Researchers (Level I). He has authored a number of important publications and has taught courses in Mexico and abroad, as well as given lectures on human rights, international criminal law, and international humanitarian law.
He has held several positions with relevant human rights responsibilities in academic, autonomous, and governmental institutions as well as non-governmental organizations. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights and since June 2014, has been a Member of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.