Casualty recording news & views

The items posted here illustrate why transparent, humanising casualty recording is crucial. Although news reports of casualties are a staple of journalism, less frequently explored are the complexities of the recording process, the immediate and long-term benefits of doing it properly and the many harms involved in failing to do so. This collection examines those issues.

Analysis: How Washington Post strips casualties from covert drone data

First published 5th Nov 2012

First published on the Bureau of Investigative Journalism website by Chris Woods. 

Alongside the Washington Post’s latest blockbuster reports on the Obama administration’s drone kill list is a new graphic, depicting US covert strikes since 2002.Based on studies by monitoring organisations, the graphic lists hundreds of US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, in what the paper says will be a regularly updated project. Also detailed are ‘the names of prominent militant leaders killed in individual strikes,’ the paper says. But there the information stops.
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New report on recording casualties of drone strikes

First published 2nd Nov 2012

The Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School in the United States has done a cross comparison research of organisations who have been recording compiling and publishing casualties of U.S drone strikes in Pakistan. The  report examined the methodology of three organisations whose casualties figures are the among the most quoted figures in the debate about the effectiveness and humanitarian costs of drones.  more...

The struggle against the toxic politics of casualty numbers in Syria

First published 26th Jul 2012

The way that death toll figures are often presented in press and media reports might lead one to think that we don't (and can't) know very much about the deadly violence in Syria. However, attempts are being made by civil society groups to replace unsubstantiated rhetoric with reliable records. Hana Salama, Coordinator of the ORG-facilitated  International Practitioner Network (IPN) of casualty recording organisations, explores how these organisations do their work, and how their work should be assessed. The article was first published on guardian.co.uk's Comment is Free on 14 July 2012. more...