Coalition's refusal to record Iraq's civilian deaths failing to respect international law

07/27/05

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The US-led Coalition is failing to respect the Geneva Conventions by refusing to facilitate an accurate count of civilian deaths in Iraq, states an editorial in this week's issue of THE LANCET.

Last week, a dossier produced by Iraq Body Count (IBC), an organisation set up with the aim of tracking civilian deaths in Iraq, revealed that 24 865 civilians have died since the war in Iraq began. The IBC database, from which data for the dossier were drawn, lists only those deaths reported by two or more news agencies. But the dataset could have been far more complete had the Coalition's military forces agreed to divert some of their numerous medical personnel to data collection, states the editorial.

The Lancet comments: "IBC compiled a credible list of deaths using just news reports and computers; the fact that the Coalition, equipped with a robust and expanding medical division, has not done so is an indefensible omission--and makes a mockery of international law. The adamant refusal of the USA and its partner countries to keep count of Iraqi deaths is a stance that renders farcical the Geneva Conventions' principle that invading forces have a duty to make every effort to protect civilian lives. How can the Coalition attest that it respects this obligation if it refuses to collect data to prove it? The US-led Coalition that instigated the war claims to have acted on behalf of the Iraqi people. At the very least, Iraq's beleaguered citizens deserve to be told the true price--in numbers of lost human lives--they have paid for a conflict undertaken in their names."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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