Project Overview

Unidentified victims, perpetrators, and details of human rights violations are camouflaged by the scale of archival records of witness reports; keyword based search is insufficient to extract them. Digging into Human Rights Violations will develop an automated reader for large text archives of human rights abuses that will reconstruct stories from fragments scattered across a collection, and an interface for navigating those stories. By improving on anaphora resolution techniques in Natural Language Processing for the connection of pronouns to specific nouns, this system will help researchers and courts reveal witnesses and patterns contained in their own collections. This project will read reports of historic disappearances and systemic violence in Guatemala, of abuse against women and children in Burma, and of violent incidents and rights violations in Chechnya, and provide new methods and free tools for human rights advocates.

This NSF and SSHRC funded project links scholars and practitioners in the United States and Canada at various academic institutions, NGOs, and companies and advances methods in corpus linguistics, data visualization, machine learning, and human rights text analysis.  The primary collaborators are organized as the Human Rights Research Project at Western University under the direction of Dr. Lu Xiao.