What data does the Monitor collect?

Units, persons and incidents

Security Force Monitor researches and creates data about three things (or “entities”) related to security forces around the world:

  • Units are official state or state-sanctioned organizations responsible for the internal or external security for a country, including the police, army, navy, air force and other security forces. Units refer to any any part of the hierarchy of a security force, ranging from a defense ministry with national jurisdiction, to a police unit based in a small town. Units can also be groupings of units such as “operations”, “joint task forces” or peacekeeping missions. The Monitor collects data about a unit’s name, aliases, bases and other physical infrastructure, geographical areas of operation and relationships with other units over time.
  • Persons are natural persons who are affiliated with, or hold positions of command over a specific unit at a particular point in time. The Monitor creates a dossier for each person, which includes their name, aliases, rank, title, role and the different units which they are affiliated with. In addition, we use a format called Persons Extra to capture data about a person’s online and social media accounts, and media describing how a person looks and sounds
  • Incidents are publicly-documented allegations of human rights violations committed by security forces. These include extrajudicial killings, rape, torture and other forms of violence. The Monitor does not make allegations itself, but rather complies allegations made by governmental bodies, human rights organizations and other civil society actors. For each incident, the Monitor includes a description from the source, date(s), specific location(s), its perpetrators and the types of human rights violation alleged to have happened.

Every piece of data collected by the Monitor is individually sourced and each data point about Persons and Units is assigned a confidence score. The Research Handbook sections on Sources and Data integrity measures provide more guidance about these aspects of the data creation process.

Detailed guidance about the fields used by the Monitor to record data about Units, Persons and Incidents is provided in the sections that follow.

Sample data entry sheets

Security Force Monitor uses databases, spreadsheets and other tools to capture and analyse the data described in this Research Handbook. Though the spreadsheet can get quite large and unwieldy, it remains an extremely powerful and effective way to capture and store data. To assist you with your research, here are the formats we use as a Google Sheet, and in Excel and OpenDocument formats: