Tutorial: What is a Bulletin

Tutorial: What is a Bulletin

The Afghanistan Documentation Project (ADP) is a publicly accessible database of documents regarding human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in Afghanistan..

A bulletin is a single data entry in the ADP database relating to a specific event where a human rights violation may have occurred, as reported by a single source document.

A source document can be anything, but most are published reports from reputable government and non-government organizations while others are news articles, direct interviews, or other sources. The ADP does not independently verify the truth or accuracy of these reports. The purpose of this database is to make it easier for researchers to locate information about human rights violations. The onus is on these researchers to conduct their own verification, or seek more information from the publishing organization, before acting on the information contained in this database.

Bulletins ONLY contain information as reported by the single source document they are drawn from. Bulletins do not contain outside research or information from other source documents. Multiple bulletins may refer to the same event, but different source documents provide different, sometimes contradictory details.

A bulletin event must contain 1) information concerning a possible human rights violation; 2) information concerning the time and place at which the incident occurred, even if the precise time and place are not known; and 3) information regarding actors involved in the incident, even if the precise identity of the actors are not known.

For instance, a source document may provide the following example: "In the summer of 1996, shooters assaulted the home of John Doe, a shopkeeper from Khanabad. Mr. Doe, along with his wife, were injured in the shooting." This event involves a physical attack on two civilians by unknown assailants. The shooters are "the people who shot at the home of John Doe." Thus, even though there is no information to identify these people, there is enough information about the actors to warrant a bulletin. The same goes for the time of the incident. Although "summer of 1996" is not very specific, the source provides an approximate date, which will be reflected in the bulletin.

What does not qualify as a bulletin? If the information about the time or participants is not specific, such as a list of towns where landmines were found, or a record of war-related injuries treated at a hospital over a long period of time, a separate bulletin will not be created. General information about conflict between armed forces are similarly excluded from the database. However, summary execution of prisoners after a battle has ended, which would likely constitute a violation of human rights and/or humanitarian law, would warrant a bulletin.

Who Are We

The Afghanistan Documentation Project is the product of a partnership between the War Crimes Research Office and the Pence Law Library of the American University Washington College of Law and the U.S. Institute of Peace. It was established to collect and create a fully searchable and publicly accessible database of documents regarding human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in Afghanistan since 1978.