Case Studies: Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights

AAAS Case Studies | Other Case Studies

An important component of the AAAS Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project is the dissemination of information resources on applications of geospatial technology for the human rights community.

AAAS Case Studies

To learn about all the case studies conducted by the Project, please download our ebook of case studies.


Afghanistan
With information from Physicians for Human Rights, AAAS acquired and analyzed multiple satellite images of a suspected mass grave site at Dasht-e Leili, Afghanistan. Analysis helped to determine the precise date of possible excavation of the grave, indicated by the presence of heavy earthmoving equipment at the site.
Report | Google Earth Layer

Argentina
With information from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) AAAS located and analyzed multiple historical declassified US spy satellite imagery from the 1970s to help inform discussion and testimony on changes to landscapes dating from the ‘Dirty War’ period in Argentina.
Report

Azerbaijan
Based on reports of the destruction of Armenian cultural artifacts, AAAS conducted imagery analysis of a medieval cemetery in Nakhchivan. Image analysis showed that the ancient burial monuments had been destroyed at some time between 2003 and 2009.
Report | Report (PDF)

Bahrain
At the request of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, AAAS analyzed time series imagery from NASA's Landsat satellites from 1987 to 2013 to document Land Cover and Land Use Change (LC/LUC) across the country of Bahrain. 
Report | Report (PDF)

Burma
With reporting from human rights organizations in Burma, AAAS analyzed images of Karen State to document the destruction of civilian infrastructure and the construction of military operation camps carried out by the ruling military government in Burma.
Report | Report (PDF) | Google Earth Layer 2007Google Earth Layer 2009

Democratic Republic of Congo
With information from Human Rights Watch and other sources, AAAS sought to document changes in villages over time and denote indications of mass violence using high resolution satellite imagery.
Report | Google Earth Layer

Ethiopia: Gambella
With information from Human Rights Watch, AAAS provided satellite imagery and analysis to document the relocation of rural agro-pastoralists to government planned villages in the Gambella region.
Report | Report (PDF)

Ethiopia: Ogaden
With information from Human Rights Watch, AAAS provided satellite imagery and analysis which corroborated reported attacks in civilians in the Ogaden region.
Report

Georgia
Based on media reporting and other information sources, AAAS acquired satellite imagery and conducted an extensive analysis which provided documentation of reported attacks on civilians during the conflict in South Ossetia from August 10-19, 2008.
Report | Report (PDF) | Google Earth Layer

Kenya: Waruku and Githogoro
At the request of Amnesty International, USA, AAAS investigated reports of forced evictions and demolition of structures in two areas of Kenya: Waruku and Githogoro. The analysis found no evidence of destruction in Waruku, but found that 156 structures had been removed between June 25, 2009 and September 22, 2009 in Githogoro.
Report | Report (PDF)

Kenya: Nairobi
At the request of Amnesty International, USA, investigated reports of forced relocations in Nairobi, Kenya, during 2011 - 2012. Analysis found that approximately 3,966 structures were demolished.
Report Report (PDF)

Kyrgyzstan
AAAS conducted a damage assessment of Osh, Kyrgyzstan at the request of Amnesty International, USA following reports of widespread burning and violence. The analysis found that several neighborhoods had been completely destroyed.
Report | Report (PDF)

Lebanon
AAAS attained and analyzed images of damage to civilian infrastructure in Southern Lebanon to assist Amnesty International’s examination of whether such destruction was deliberate and not merely “collateral damage.”
Report | Google Earth Layer

Libya
AAAS analyzed images of the city of Misurata, Libya to assess the damage caused by the conflict in March and April 2011.
Report | Report (PDF)

Nigeria
This technical report details AAAS’ investigation of forced evictions in Port Harcourt, conflict in the Niger Delta, communal conflict in Jos, and industrial gas flaring. Together these studies comprise the Eyes on Nigeria project, created in partnership with Amnesty International, USA.
Report | Report (PDF)

Pakistan
Working with Amnesty International, USA, AAAS obtained and analyzed data on human rights concerns in northwestern Pakistan. This data was developed into an online map server, allowing dynamic visualization and analysis via an advocacy web site, Eyes on Pakistan.
Report

Somalia
At the request of Amnesty International, USA, AAAS analyzed satellite imagery to examine incidents of reported violence in Mogadishu, Somalia between February 2007 and January 2010.
Report | Report (PDF)

Sri Lanka: 2009 Conflict
As the conflict in Sri Lanka during May 2009 drew to a close, AAAS responded to international concerns over civilian well-being in the Civilian Safety Zone (CSZ), and provided satellite imagery and analysis for the most intense time of the conflict.
Report | Google Earth Layer

Sri Lanka: Valikamam High Security Zone
At the request of the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice (SLC), the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) acquired time series high-resolution satellite imagery of an area of Sri Lanka known as the Valikamam High Security Zone (HSZ) to determine what changes have taken place in the military zone since the end of the conflict in 2009.
Report Report (PDF)

Sudan: Chad and Sudan Using satellite imagery of this region, AAAS documented past attacks by the Sudanese government-backed Janjaweed militias against civilian communities in Darfur, Sudan and Chad and is developing methods for tracking current attacks.
Report | Google Earth Layer

Sudan: Negeha, Darfur
AAAS revisited Darfur, Sudan following reported attacks in the Negeha area. The analysis found burned structures and charred earth, corroborating reports of an attack in December 2010.
Report | Report (PDF) | Google Earth Layer

Sudan: Ulu, Blue Nile
AAAS investigated reports from Amnesty International, USA of increased fighting in the Sudanese border state of Blue Nile.
Report | Report (PDF)

Syria: Initial Conflict
At the request of Amnesty International, USA, AAAS acquired satellite imagery to investigate human rights-related reports stemming from the conflict in Aleppo, Syria in August 2012.
Report | Report (PDF) | Google Earth Layer

Syria: Aleppo Retrospective
AAAS acquired and analyzed satellite imagery covering covering Aleppo, Syria from August 2012-May 2013 to assess the continuing conflict, including: documentation of military vehicles and equipment, roadblocks, signs of damage and destruction, and damage to cultural sites.
Report | Report (PDF) | Google Earth Layer

Syria: Medical Facility Damage
At the request of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), AAAS has undertaken an assessment of high-resolution satellite imagery to examine medical facilities across Syria. The purpose of the assessment was to verify reports of damage and destruction to the facilities.
Report 1 | Report 1 (PDF)
Report 2

Turkmenistan
AAAS partnered with Crude Accountability and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights to investigate the status of human rights and environmental concerns in Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan.
Report | Enivronmental Report (PDF) | Demolitions Report (PDF) | Google Earth Layer

Ukraine: Part One- Sevastopol
AAAS, as part of a broader study on the use of high-resolution remote sensing for conflict early-warning, has undertaken analysis of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia in Crimea. Part one of the series focuses on events in the Crimean city of Sevastopol.
Report | Report (PDF) 

Ukraine: Part Two- Border Deployments
AAAS, as part of a broader study on the use of high-resolution remote sensing for conflict early-warning, has undertaken analysis of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia in Crimea. Part Two of the series focuses on deployments of Ukranian and Russian troops along their shared border region, as well as in Crimea. 
Report | Report (PDF) 

Zimbabwe
Amnesty International requested assistance from AAAS to analyze satellite images of four communities in Zimbabwe – Porta Farms, Hatcliffe, Chitungwiza, and Killarney – affected by the government of Zimbabwe’s Operation Murambatsvina, a campaign begun in 2005 to destroy homes and business in allegedly “illegal settlements.”
Report | Google Earth Layer

Other Case Studies

Eritrea and Ethiopia
The State of Eritrea employed geospatial technologies to document alleged destruction of Eritrean public and private infrastructure by occupying Ethiopian forces in order to present an analysis to an international claims commission established at the Hague to settle claims disputes.
Summary

Gaza Strip
Human Rights Watch undertook a 2004 study to investigate the use of geospatial technologies in verifying the destruction by Israeli Defense Forces of housing and other infrastructure along the southern border of the Gaza Strip.
Summary | HRW Report

North Korea
The U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea published a 2003 extensive study on North Korea’s prison camp system that includes ex-prisoner testimonies corroborated with annotated high-resolution satellite images of the camps obtained from 2001 to 2003. In 2012, the USCHR produced a second edition of "The Hidden Gulag."
Summary | USCHR Report 2004 | USCHR-NK 2012.