Human Rights and Statistics: Getting the Record Straight

Human Rights and Statistics: Getting the Record Straight

Human Rights and Statistics: Getting the Record Straight

Human Rights and Statistics: Getting the Record Straight

Synopsis

Contributors from the fields of political science, public health, law, forensics and statistics illustrate statistical practices in the field of human rights in this volume. The treatment is non-mathematical and provides coverage of all methods of statistical data on human rights violations.

Excerpt

In February 1977 Carlos Noriega, a former director of the Argentine Statistical Office, was abducted in the presence of his wife and three small children while vacationing in Mar del Plata. Word of Noriega's disappearance reached U.S. statisticians, including Fred C. Leone, the executive director of the American Statistical Association (ASA), who had been beneficiaries of Noriega's official and personal hospitality during a visit to Argentina in May 1976. Largely because of Leone's efforts, in 1978 the American Statistical Association (ASA) established an Ad Hoc Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights, following the lead of other professional and scientific societies that had begun to respond to widespread violations of the human rights of their professional colleagues throughout the world.

The ASA Committee (which soon became a permanent committee), with important help and counsel from staff of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), began to monitor the cases of Noriega and other statisticians who had been victims of human rights abuses and to make formal appeals on their behalf. These appeals did not benefit Carlos Noriega, whose fate is still unknown, but the committee believes they were effective in bringing about better treatment of some other victims. Progress in some areas of the world is accompanied by new outbreaks of repression in other areas, and the ASA Committee continues its casework.

Working on behalf of one's professional colleagues is imperative but is not enough to ensure significant progress toward worldwide realization of the rights set out in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Members of the ASA Committee and others began to ask themselves how statisticians, using the tools of their profession, could work with others to promote the assurance of human rights for all. Prominent among the ASA members who raised this question was Professor I. Richard Savage who, in his 1984 . . .

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