Defense Authorization Strengthens Protections for Civilians Harmed in U.S. Military Operations
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded two new measures in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act that will enhance national security by strengthening protections for civilians harmed in U.S. military operations. The defense authorization bill was signed by President Trump this afternoon.
“Congress has sent an important message that it is committed to strong oversight and transparency of civilians harmed in U.S. military operations,” said Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion. “Robust transparency on civilian casualties enhances our national security by enabling the United States to broadcast successes; restore credibility when mistakes occur; and correct erroneous allegations of civilian harm that fuel enemy propaganda and recruitment, and can turn allies, partners, and local populations against the United States.”
The provisions clarify and increase existing reporting requirements on civilians killed or injured in U.S. operations and require the Department of Defense to designate a senior official to develop and ensure compliance with Pentagon policy on minimizing and responding to such incidents of civilian harm. The official must provide a report to congressional defense committees within 180 days, detailing the new policy and the Department’s efforts to implement it.