WASHINGTON, DC – (May 7, 2018) – Last Tuesday, May 1, 2018, marked the deadline for the Trump administration to report the number of strikes undertaken by the U.S. Government against terrorist targets outside “areas of active hostilities” and provide an assessment of resulting civilian casualties for the preceding year. The report and assessment are required under Executive Order 13732, the United States Policy on Pre- and Post-Strike Measures to Address Civilian Casualties in U.S. Operations Involving the Use of Force. In response to the passing of this deadline without action by the administration, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) Executive Director Federico Borello issued the following statement:

“We commend the Trump administration for keeping Executive Order 13732 in place. This policy resulted from bipartisan consensus on the importance of reducing harm to civilians caught in the crossfire of conflict and signals ongoing national commitment to their protection. Tracking and assessing reports of civilian casualties, as required by the Executive Order, can improve efforts to reduce harm and preserve the legitimacy of government conduct.

One of the most important features of this particular Executive Order is the annual report requirement. While CIVIC remains concerned about the use of lethal force outside of war zones, releasing information on resulting civilian casualties serves a critical purpose in a democracy that values transparency. Further, including ‘general reasons for discrepancies’ between official assessments and ‘credible reporting from nongovernmental organizations regarding non-combatant deaths’ ensures that government consideration of information about civilian casualties provided by outside sources is publicly available.

Preservation of the policy of transparency about casualties, even when no wrongdoing is suspected, sends a powerful message to the world that the United States is committed to reducing harm experienced by civilians in conflict. Failure to provide a timely report pursuant to the policy dilutes that message. We encourage the Trump administration to release a report and assessment of civilian casualties and welcome an open dialogue about its contents.”

 

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Notes to editors:

 

Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)’s mission is to work with armed actors and civilians in conflict to develop and implement solutions to prevent, mitigate, and respond to civilian harm. Our vision is for a world where parties to armed conflicts recognize the dignity and rights of civilians, prevent civilian harm, protect civilians caught in conflict, and amend harm.

For more information, contact Piper Hendricks at phendricks@civiliansinconflict.org.