WASHINGTON (Feb. 1, 2017) — We at Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) express profound regret and offer condolences both to the families of civilians reported killed in the recent counterterrorism operation in Yemen and to the family of US Navy Sailor Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens.

We call on Defense Secretary James Mattis, Gen. Joseph Votel of Central Command, and Gen. Raymond A. Thomas of Special Operations Command, to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the operation and make the details of the investigation public, including to the affected families. Maintaining public trust depends on transparency and accountability.

We also call on the United States government to provide appropriate post-harm assistance to civilians who were injured and to the families of those who were killed. Having standing policies, standard procedures, and adequate resources to provide post-harm assistance to civilians who are harmed in US-conducted operations in the future will be an important resource and tool, especially if, as has been reported, there is an increase in the number of operations or modifications to the rules of engagement.

Finally, this incident, while tragic, provides an opportunity for the US to consider any additional steps it can take to prevent and mitigate harm to civilians during its military operations.

Update (Feb. 2, 2017): Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) welcomes yesterday’s statement from US Central Command providing additional details on the Jan. 29 raid in Yemen. As the investigation continues, we look forward to more information being made available, not only to the US public but to those affected by the operation. We reiterate our call for the US to provide appropriate post-harm assistance to surviving family members of civilians killed.


Notes to editors:
The mission of Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is to improve protection for civilians caught in conflicts around the world. We call on and advise international organizations, governments, militaries, and armed non-state actors to adopt and implement policies to prevent civilian harm. When civilians are harmed we advocate for the provision of amends and post-harm assistance. We bring the voices of civilians themselves to those making decisions affecting their lives.

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Chris Allbritton: +1 917 310-4785 or chris@civiliansinconflict.org

Image courtesy of CIVIC