Skip to main content

Armed Conflict: Civilians

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 113162, tabled on 27 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what his Department's process is for assessing the credibility of reports of civilian harm submitted to it.

Answered on

4 February 2022

Every care is taken to avoid or minimise civilian casualties. To this end, the UK has robust procedures to ensure that our actions, including airstrikes and subsequent battle damage assessments, are conducted in accordance with UK law and International Humanitarian Law.

However, we accept the possibility that there could be instances of civilian casualties about which we are unaware, despite our best efforts to assess battle damage. For that reason, in 2016, the then Defence Secretary committed that Ministry of Defence officials would work with civil society organisations on this issue. As a result, we always re-examine any new information relating to a potential incident submitted to us by such organisations, where it is possible that UK forces may have been involved.

Parliament will always be informed of any instance where we assess a UK airstrike is responsible for a civilian casualty incident, whether incurred during a new strike, or as a result of re-examining historic strikes using new information.