How We Work
PHR exists to stop mass atrocities (crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes) and acts that cause severe physical or mental harm to individuals. Such abuses by governments and those with de facto state authority include:
- Killing, murder, extrajudicial execution, and extermination
- Torture, mutilation, scientific experimentation, and cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment
- Rape as a weapon of war
- Pillaging of towns and attacks on civilians
- Forced displacement
- Forced disappearance, detention, and enslavement
- Group persecution and apartheid
- Attacks on hospitals, clinics, medical transport, and interference with the neutral care of the sick and wounded in conflict situations.
In order to prevent, stop, and ensure accountability for these acts, PHR conducts medical and scientific investigations. Our research methodology is based on:
- Forensic science, ranging from autopsies of individuals to exhumations of mass graves, that produces evidence for courts. Learn more about our forensic work.
- Medical and psychological examinations of individuals to show physical and mental harm caused by abuses such as torture. Learn about our use of medical examinations to aid torture victims.
- Epidemiological research that involves surveying entire populations in order to show the prevalence of abuse, such as forced labor in Burma’s Chin State. Learn about our use of epidemiology to reveal extensive abuse in Burma.
Documenting Evidence and Stories
We document our investigations with objective evidence and compelling human stories for a variety of targeted audiences:
- Reports, briefing papers, and alerts for targeted policy makers and their staff
- Court-admissible evidence for courts, tribunals, and commissions
- Testimony for national and international governmental bodies
- Peer-reviewed scientific articles for health professionals devoted to human rights work
Review our work by topic or country in our library.
Calling for Action
The integrity of our evidence is bolstered by the authority of the health professionals who work with us. In partnership with local human rights organizations and other NGOs, our human rights experts meet with key representatives from governments, the United Nations, international courts, and regional groups like the African Union and the European Union to:
- Call for sanctions and interventions
- Appoint commissions of inquiry
- Prosecute individuals
- Initiate investigations
- Draft legislation
- Shape US policy priorities
- Host hearings and briefings on key human rights issues
- Support the goals of our grassroots NGO partners