Washington D.C.- Progressive lawmakers in the United States have introduced legislation to prevent civil damage during US military operations and increase transparency around such incidents, emphasizing that the deaths of innocent people should not be inevitable in war.
Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate on Thursday introduced the two bills, called the Department of Defense Civilian Damages Transparency Act and the Protection of Civilians in Military Operations Act.
The bills would require the Pentagon to improve investigations into civilian deaths, establish a database for such investigations, and create a center to advise the US government on “best practices for preventing, mitigating, and responding to.” to civil damage.
The legislation also requires an unclassified report on how the Defense Department “distinguished between combatants and civilians in the United States.” military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen since 2001″.
“We cannot continue to accept the death of innocent civilians as an unavoidable cost of war – the Department of Defense has a moral responsibility to prevent its military operations from harming civilians and to investigate whether civilians are harmed,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. , who is leading the legislative effort, said in a statement.
He added that the two bills would establish “significant transparency requirements and security measures” to prevent civilian suffering.
If passed, the bills would appoint an official at the Pentagon to coordinate investigations into civilian harm.
The proposals come eight months after a US drone attack in Kabul they killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
US military leaders initially insisted that the August 2021 raid was targeting ISIL (ISIS) operatives planning an attack on Kabul airport, where US troops were carrying out an attack. mass evacuation operation.
“At this point, we believe the procedures were followed correctly and it was a fair shot,” Mark Milley, the top US general, told reporters at a briefing on September 1, 2021.
The Pentagon finally acknowledged that the bombing killed civilians, after US and international media interviewed survivors who insisted only innocent people were killed in the attack.
“They were innocent and defenseless children,” said Aimal Ahmadi, whose nieces and nephews were killed in the attack. he told Al Jazeera the day after the bombing.
Still, an internal Pentagon review completed last year that while the bombing was a “regrettable mistake,” it did not rise to the level of criminal misconduct or negligence. No one was reprimanded for the attack.
A report by The New York Times earlier this year also documented how the Pentagon has discounted civilian casualties in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.
“Protecting civilians during conflict is not only a cornerstone of international law, it is imperative to our national security,” Sen. Jeff Merkley, a co-sponsor of Thursday’s bills, said in the statement announcing the legislation.
“By improving reporting and investigating civilian harm from our own and our allies’ military operations, these two bills increase transparency to help prevent unnecessary loss of life.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders also backs the legislation, while for the House side, co-sponsors include Ro Khanna, Jason Crow, Sara Jacobs and Tom Malinowski, all Democrats.
Human Rights Watch, Win Without War and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also support the legislation, among other rights groups.
“These bills come at a critical time when harm to civilians must be taken into account,” Annie Shiel, senior adviser to the advocacy group Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), said in the statement. “About him last twenty yearsthe US government has repeatedly failed to prevent, meaningfully investigate, publicly acknowledge, and redress harm to civilians.”