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Feb 3, 2016

Episode Note from Todd Landman

We are saddened to learn that Will Moore died on 19 April 2017. Professor Moore gave tirelessly of his time to advance the cause of human rights. He was a hugely successful and highly published scholar who not only advanced the quantitative analysis of human rights and political violence, but also supported students and early career researchers through inclusion, sharing, and co creation of knowledge. His contribution has been considerable and he will be sorely missed. It was a privilege to interview him about his work for this episode of The Rights Track.

In Episode 3 of the Rights Track, Todd asks Professor Will Moore, Professor of Political Science and Global Studies at Arizona State University about the methods he uses to try to count victims of torture.

0.00-5.25 mins 

  • the challenges that organisations and researchers face when trying to count victims of torture accurately
  • why Will and colleagues have moved towards trying to estimate the numbers better
  • the traditional methods for counting victims of torture
  • Amnesty International and the US State’s early efforts in this area
  • the flaws in those approaches

5.26-11.27 mins

  • Will’s Ill Treatment & Torture Data Collection Project
  • accessing the data set and how to use it to draw inferences from it
  • how Will developed some complex statistical models to help analyse the available data
  • controlling for and correcting any potential bias caused the selective focus of organisations like Amnesty in focusing on particular countries at a particular time

11.28-15.48 mins

  • the potential applications of the data set and associated statistical models
  • the problems with using things like the Political Terror Scale and The Cingranelli and Richards Human Rights Data Project
  • the standards that groups like Amnesty are trying to apply when raising human rights abuse allegations
  • the ‘political’ calculations Amnesty is making to keep their supporters on board
  • the considerations that groups like Human Rights Watch has when considering how to bring a case forward including real example


  • how researchers can work with the data to try to get to a better estimate of the patterns of what is happening
  • how the data have been coded by Will and his team
  • the rich data that are available
  • the CIA torture report and other well documented evidence of torture that has and will continue to emerge
  • people’s attitudes in different countries to torture - Amnesty survey
  • a summary of Will’s project, the data and its availability/open processes and procedures that have been used in its creation and use

Other useful links