Department of Statistics Unitmark
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Human rights in Peru: AAAS analysis doubles previous estimates of killings

AAAS, the science society, today announced startling new estimates on the number of people who "disappeared" or were killed in Peru during a 20-year battle between government forces and Maoist insurgents that ended in the late 1990s.

A final, peer-reviewed version of the AAAS analysis, released today, "doubles earlier, incomplete estimates of how many people were killed," said Patrick Ball, Deputy Director of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program. Ball served as co-author of the AAAS report, "How Many Peruvians Died?--An Estimate of the Total Number of Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict, 1980-2000," along with Jana Asher, a statistical consultant for AAAS, and David Sulmont, with Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission."

Some 69,280 people (in a confidence interval from 61,007 to 77,552) were murdered or disappeared during the turmoil in Peru, the AAAS report concludes.

The new estimates will be examined during discussions with Peruvian scientists, journalists and the report co-authors. "This exchange is important for the credibility of the report," Ball noted.

To come up with the death toll, the authors used statistical projections from reports of 24,000 victims to estimate how many deaths had not been reported. Based on the reports of witnesses, the authors suggest that the Shining Path, a Maoist rebel group, committed 46 percent of the killings, and that 30 percent could be attributed to government security forces. The deaths of another 23 percent were blamed on other rebel groups, including the Tupac Armaru Revolutionary Movement, and armed peasant groups. Ball and his colleagues used data analysis methods similar to those developed by AAAS for use in Guatemala and Kosovo. Ball said that the AAAS report on the deaths is part of a larger document produced by the truth and reconciliation commission to record the infamous era in Peruvian history.

The report was produced with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which provided a $700,000 grant to support the data analysis activities of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Program. The program has conducted quantitative analyses for large-scale human rights data projects in Africa, Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe.

Founded in 1848, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has worked to advance science for human well-being through its projects, programs, and publications, in the areas of science policy, science education and international scientific cooperation. AAAS and its journal, Science, report nearly 140,000 individual and institutional subscribers, plus 272 affiliated organizations in more than 130 countries, serving a total of 10 million individuals. Thus, AAAS is the world's largest general federation of scientists. Science is an editorially independent, multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed weekly that ranks among the world's most prestigious scientific journals. AAAS administers EurekAlert! , the online news service, featuring the latest discoveries in science and technology.