Patrick Ball has spent more than 25 years conducting quantitative analysis for truth commissions, non-governmental organizations, international criminal tribunals, and United Nations missions in Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Perú, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Syria.
Ball began working in the human rights field in El Salvador in 1991. From 1993 to 2003, he worked in several capacities in the Science and Human Rights Program at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he began recruiting colleagues to build the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). From 2003 to 2013, he was vice president for human rights programs and the chief scientific officer at Benetech, a nonprofit technology company in Silicon Valley. From 2013 through 2015, Ball was executive director of HRDAG; in December 2015, he became HRDAG’s director of research.
Ball provided testimony in two cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the first in the trial of Slobodan Milošević, the former president of Serbia. He provided technical advice to the Special Court in Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court. In 2013, he provided expert testimony in Guatemala’s Supreme Court in the trial of General José Efraín Ríos Montt, the de-facto president of Guatemala in 1982-1983. Gen. Ríos Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity; it was the first time ever that a former head of state was found guilty of genocide in his own country.
In September 2015, Ball provided expert testimony in the trial of former President of Chad, Hissène Habré. HRDAG’s analysis showed that the death rate for political prisoners was 90 to 540 times higher than for adult men in Chad.
Ball is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2018, the American Statistical Association gave him the Karl E Peace Award for Outstanding Statistical Contributions for the Betterment of Society. In 2015, the Claremont Graduate University awarded Ball a Doctor of Science (honoris causa). In 2014, he was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association. In 2005, the Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded Ball their Pioneer Award. In June 2004, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) gave him the Eugene Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics, and in 2002, he received a Special Achievement Award from the Social Statistics Section of the American Statistical Association. He is on the advisory council of Security Force Monitor, a project of the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute; a fellow at the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law of the University of California-Berkeley; and a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Human Rights Science. He has been profiled by Pacific Standard, the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Foreign Policy, Salon.com, and the Christian Science Monitor, and he has been featured in a PBS film.
Ball received his bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University, and his doctorate from the University of Michigan.