DOD Releases Annual Civilian Casualties Report
Washington, D.C.—In response to yesterday’s submission by the Department of Defense of its annual report on civilian casualties, Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion released the following statement:
The annual civilian casualties report is a crucial spotlight on U.S. use of military force, and we are pleased that the Department of Defense has provided key information to Congress and the American people about the impact of its operations on civilians. However, the low number of casualties in the report reflects a need for the department to improve its process for assessing civilian casualties.
Transparency regarding the use of lethal force is essential for enhancing the legitimacy of U.S. actions by enabling the United States to broadcast successes, restore credibility when mistakes occur, and correct erroneous allegations of civilian casualties that fuel enemy propaganda and recruitment.
We encourage Congress to further strengthen transparency requirements with respect to the use of force in this year’s defense authorization, including by ensuring that all U.S. government strikes are reported on, not just those conducted by the military.
The report comes as human rights, civil liberties, transparency, and faith-based organizations, including Human Rights First, sent a letter to Congress urging them to strengthen oversight, transparency, and accountability surrounding U.S. lethal strikes and resulting civilian casualties.