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Afghan civilians killed or wounded by British forces: the investigations listed

From The Guardian's Datablog

First published 25th Oct 2011

This article by the Guardian illustrates the existence of systematic and comprehensive recording by the UK government of a specific category of casualty over an extended period of time, and the (partial) publication of detailed data from that recording activity at the level of individual incident. 

According to The Guardian,

Britain's military police have investigated almost 100 incidents [from January 2005 to March 2011] in which UK forces have been accused of killing or wounding civilians in Afghanistan, documents  obtained by the Guardian reveal. The dossier shows that at least 30 Afghan civilians, including women and children, were reported to have been killed and up to 42 injured in the incidents.

This publication, valuable because it brings to light 'alleged attacks on civilians that have gone largely unnoticed and unreported,' also demonstrates that the capacity to record casualties exists within the British military structure. 

From the Guardian's article, and a Datablog entry dedicated to the same subject, it appears that many of the incidents were documented throughly, offering explanations of the circumstances surrounding the deaths: whether it was a military response to suspicion of 'Taliban insurgents...planting homemade bombs' or allegations that individuals were 'killed in an air strike.'

No matter what the cause of individual casualties, it is laudable that the British military is utilising its capacity for casualty recording towards the purpose of maintaining military accountability. It is important to note that such prosecutions, where public, transparent, and fair, may have moral, juridical, and political significance both domestically and internationally. Yet, as the Guardian explains, the number of prosecutions so far undertaken, as well as their outcomes, remains unknown. Without this information, knowledge about the investigations does not give a sense of how they are affecting the individuals, families, and political bodies involved.

On a final note, it would be worthwhile knowing whether, and if so how, the British military engages with ISAF's Civilian Casualties Tracking Cell. If the institutions act independently but record the same incidents, then there is potentially space for the coordination of findings to better pursue prosecutions.