Manual Serves as Key Reference for Human Rights Data Gathering
The Spanish version of Dr. Patrick Ball’s well-known manual, Who Did What to Whom?: Planning and Implementing a Large-Scale Human Rights Data Project, has been published under the title ¿Quién le hizo qué a quién? Planear e implementar un proyecto a gran escala de información en derechos humanos.
Originally published under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1996, the manual has long been a reference for human rights institutions that gather, analyze, and process information on human rights violations. The manual is based on Dr. Ball’s many years of work in human rights information management.
Dr. Ball states in his foreword to the original English edition – and it is even more true today – “…that although the technology, both hardware and software, has advanced tremendously, and the political contexts have varied widely in the six countries to which this work has taken me, the key issues have remained the same because the question at the root of this exercise is the same: Who did what to whom?”
Twelve years later, unfortunately, the question has not lost its relevance. Clearly, patiently, and painstakingly, Dr. Ball takes the reader through the stages of building an integrated human rights information management system and provides guidelines on how organizations should collect, organize store and analyze their data. The manual helps human rights organizations effectively understand and comprehend all of the information available to them and use this framework as they study patterns of violence. Dr. Ball also provides practical and context-friendly solutions for the development of human rights information management, including problems of information security in the Internet age.
At the heart of Dr. Ball’s argument is his conviction that a proper information management can be an immensely powerful tool to reveal the truth. In many places in the world today, from Spain to Cambodia to Colombia, human rights workers are concerned with discovering and supporting factual information about past events and developing historical accounts that are irrefutable and immune from manipulation.
Various Latin American human rights organizations requested that Who Did What to Whom? be translated and published in Spanish. Its valuable lessons can now put to good use by a wide range of Spanish-speaking organizations. A launch event for Who Did What to Whom? in Bogotá attracted a lively gathering that featured members of the Colombian judicial police alongside members of local NGOs, representatives from foreign embassies, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, academics, government prosecutors, forensic medicine experts, as well as IT specialists and entrepreneurs.