Bloodhound was started in early 2004 in response to the outbreak of war in Darfur in April 2003. At that time human rights organisations and the humanitarian community were unable to gauge the full scale of the atrocities being perpetrated by the Government of Sudan.
Bloodhound's co-founder Phil Clarke therefore convinced Amnesty International to bypass the checkpoints that prevented access to Darfur, through using low cost LandSat 7 satellite images to map the scale and extent of burned villages.
This study was possibly the first time that an independent non-governmental organisation used remote sensing to document human rights abuses and war crimes, and was published by Amnesty in July 2004. The study was followed up by a paper in the International Journal of Remote Sensing volume 29, pages 1207-1214 in early 2008, and was subsequently reviewed by the scientific journal Nature in March 2008.
The Amnesty satellite study was able to demonstrate that 44% of the villages in Darfur had been burned by April 2004, but was unable to identify the perpetrators. The general media message at that time claimed that this was being predominantly done by the Janjaweed militia, who were allied to the Government of Sudan, but acted beyond their control.
Bloodhound co-founders Lise-Lotte Tullin and Andreas Höfer Petersen therefore conducted a detailed study using as many available independent sources as possible on the attacks in Darfur. They created a database of recorded burned villages, where information was available on the name of the village, the date of the attack, the number of victims and the identity of the perpetrators. 178 sources gave information on 372 attacks, and from these Bloodhound was able to deduce that the Government of Sudan had been directly involved in 58% of all the attacks, demonstrating their direct complicity. Bloodhound was furthermore able to show that the government and Janjaweed together were responsible for 97% of the attacks, which was a clear sign of the employment of a disproportionate use of force against civilian targets.
The study was published in April 2006 at the same time that Bloodhound was formally launched as an organisation. A detailed review of Bloodhound's study has been conducted by the Center on Law and Globalisation. Bloodhound's report The Scorched Earth of Darfur and database annexes can be downloaded on this site.
Bloodhound subsequently focussed its attention on the atrocities perpetrated in oil concession Block 5a in South Sudan, which were a direct consequence of the exploration for oil by Swedish oil company Lundin. Bloodhound co-founder Phil Clarke had first become aware of these atrocities – as well as those by Canadian oil company Talisman and its joint venture partners – during a visit to rebel-held South Sudan in December 2000. He subsequently campaigned for many years within the humanitarian community for more to be done to expose those crimes. In January 2005 he wrote to Egbert Wesselink of the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan to describe the possibilities of using satellite imagery to document the situation in the oil fields of South Sudan.
In early 2006 Phil Clarke encouraged Swedish volunteer Anna Thestrup to make a detailed examination of Swedish newspaper archives in order to compile a database of quotes by Lundin directors and staff in response to media criticism of Lundin's involvement in South Sudan, together with a database of accounts of attacks in the oilfields.
In July 2006 Bloodhound asked Erik Prins – who had conducted the satellite analysis for the Amnesty Darfur study – to see if he could do the same for Block 5a in South Sudan. Erik reported that the same method was not possible, but another method demonstrated massive population movements (displacements) through land use changes. Bloodhound contacted the European Coalition on Oil in Sudan (ECOS) again in August 2006 to request funding for the satellite study. By early 2007 it was mutually agreed that the project would be best served by being conducted by ECOS, although Bloodhound would continue to give support through providing data, ideas and other technical assistance.
ECOS launched its report on Lundin in Sudan under the title 'Unpaid Debt' in June 2010. Two weeks later the Swedish State Prosecutor for International War Crimes determined that sufficient evidence was available to warrant a criminal investigation into whether Swedish citizens had been complicit in the war crimes that had taken place in oil concession Block 5a in South Sudan during 1997–2003. This investigation is ongoing, and currently involves two of Sweden's State Prosecutors as well as five detectives from Sweden's International War Crimes Department who are gathering evidence for a court case.
Bloodhound subsequently provided data and ideas to a number of Swedish journalists who are investigating Lundin, and occasionally contributes to articles in the Swedish media.
In April 2012 Bloodhound was visited by the Swedish State Prosecutor together with two detectives from the Swedish police, during which Bloodhound gave evidence and released all available data to the Swedish criminal investigation (amounting to 60 Mb of text files). As a consequence of this meeting, Bloodhound became aware of the need for more detailed and precise documentation of the communications by Lundin that helped deflect criticism of its operations in oil concession Block 5A in Sudan. This led to further research that resulted in the report 'Justifying Blood Money', released in Stockholm in May 2013. An expanded version of the report – which is not made public as it contains the names and details of key suspects – has been submitted by Bloodhound to the Swedish State Prosecutor and to the Swedish police as a sealed indictment for the criminal investigation.
Over the years, Bloodhound has become aware that companies operating in war zones often provide minimal information to shareholders and potential investors about the conflicts where they work, even though such information could be material to the decision to invest. Better disclosure might prevent multinational companies from contributing to war crimes, as investors can be expected to vote against corporate operations in highly risky environments. Furthermore, companies that deliberately withhold key information that could have a material effect on share prices could incur criminal liability through swindling, since this can artificially inflate the price of stock. In January 2016, Bloodhound therefore filed two complaints about suspected swindling by oil companies listed on the Stockholm Stock exchange that were operating in war zones in Sudan and Somalia, to the Swedish police's Economic Crime Authority Ekobrottsmyndigheten. Both filings were rejected by the prosecutors assigned to the dossiers, for reasons that appeared to be incoherent (see Bloodhound Annual Reports 2014-2018 for further details).
Bloodhound has no wish to become yet another generator of opinion, and will instead focus on producing detailed documentation based on comprehensive research. Most of this will be released in the form of occasional reports, or as weblinks on this site to original information sources. Content on this page will therefore change infrequently.
In addition to the articles and campaigns featured on this site, Bloodhound has already invested over 13,250 hours into other projects which are expected to be completed during the coming few years.