I was fortunate to participate in an interesting meeting specifically on casualty recording hosted by David Davis and his staff who asked really good questions. Casualty recording came up initially in the Parliament (top of page 7) as part of a push to require the UK military to record civilians killed in air strikes. I understand that this proposed amendment to the Armed Forces Bill was defeated as too narrow; why record civilian casualties only in air strikes? Today the idea resurfaced (page 5) as a general requirement for all military operations. I believe this improved proposal was debated today but I don’t know the outcome.
I’m delighted that this is even being considered. That said, I find the language of the amendment a bit confusing although maybe I’m just not used to reading laws.
(1) The Commander responsible for review of reports on civilian non-combatant casualties submitted to the Ministry of Defence in connection with UK deployments overseas shall report to the Minister for the Armed Forces, at least once every quarter or at any more frequent intervals as the Secretary of State may specify, on—
(a) the number of reports on civilian non-combatant casualties submitted by independent bodies during the period since his or her last report;
(b) the number of reports on civilian non-combatant casualties submitted by the civilian casualties tracking unit in that period;
(c) the number of reviews on civilian non-combatant casualties carried out in that period;
(d) the sum and allocation of funding for any awards made as a result of the civilian casualty review procedure in that period.
Does the “number of reports” mean the total number of civilians reported or the number of reports received? That is, if there is one reported strike killing six and second strike killing nine is that two reports or fifteen reports? Is there a difference between a “civilian” and a “civilian non-combatant”? Does “casualties” mean killings plus injuries (as I would use the term) or just killings?
In any case this is great and I hope that something along these lines gets through.