[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 14:51 GMT
Iraq casualties: Should there be an inquiry?
Local residents arrive to examine a destroyed building in the centre of Fallujah
A group of ex-diplomats, military men and academics have written to the Prime Minister asking him to set up an independent inquiry into the number of civilian deaths and injuries in Iraq.

This comes after a study by US and Iraqi researchers published in the Lancet revealed that nearly 100,000 have died following the invasion.

The research also indicates that the risk of violent death was higher after the war than before.

However, government ministers have rejected the figures but offered no alternative estimate of their own.

Should there be an inquiry into the number of deaths in Iraq? Does the world care enough about casualties?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Nicholas Britton, Cardiff, UK
Should Tony Blair accept the advice of the group of eminent political, military and religious figures to set up an inquiry into civilian deaths in the Iraq war?

There should be an inquiry, but it should be as secretive as possible. I think the Bush administration would do everything in its power to cover up the real numbers.
Rebecca, Philadelphia, USA

The estimate of Iraqi civilian casualties given in the Lancet study has been peer-reviewed. If the Government doubts its accuracy, it should give its reasons for doing so. If it is true, it is scandalous. Only a proper inquiry can help to resolve these issues.
E.C. Hulme, St. Albans, UK

An inquiry into civilian deaths would go far in reminding people that a lot more than 1,200 servicemen/women have perished in Iraq. Actually, I'm tired of hearing people say that there has been a conspiracy here in the States to cover up these 1,200 deaths. There has been a conspiracy to cover up 100,000 deaths (and that's a conservative estimate).
Patrick Cowsill, Ashland, Ohio, U.S.A.

Who gave us the right to commit mass murder in the name of terrorist hunting?
Erkan, New York, USA
A study shows that 100,000 have died since the invasion. Are they all terrorists? Who gave us the right to commit mass murder in the name of terrorist hunting? What is happening in Iraq is a massacre. If we believe in human rights, we are supposed to bring responsibility to the international judgement. Mr. Saddam murdered 5,000 innocent people so does the 100,000 innocent deaths make Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair 20 times worse than him?
Erkan, New York, USA

There must be an inquiry - the west's good reputation (what's left of it) demands it. In every military operation conducted by US forces since world war two, there have been heaps of innocent civilian dead due to the indiscriminate use of overwhelming firepower and a reluctance (despite the Hollywood myths) to engage in close combat.
Charles, Bolton UK

The Iraq Government after it is set up and running in a few years may at that time count the dead.
Donny, Missouri

Where was a demand for an inquiry when Saddam was killing the Iraqi civilians? It's amazing the selectiveness we see when political agendas are being pushed.
Jen, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

An inquiry won't make any difference to the people of Iraq, the resources need to be put into stabilising the country. Unfortunately, I don't think this is possible, democracy is not an Arab concept and will probably fail.
Chris, UK

This is just another anti-war exercise, called for by the usual suspects in the media. Remembering that all terrorists that are killed are immediately transformed into civilians, accurate numbers will be impossible to determine. If the sovereign nation of Iraq, coming soon, wants to have such an inquiry, fine, but in the meantime let's get on with the job of hunting down terrorists who are making the country unsafe.
Dave M, Tonopah Nevada USA

Right now, the most important thing is to bring stability to Iraq
Michael Moszczynski, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I don't think an inquiry would serve any purpose. Whether or not we think the war was a mistake, and I do, it happened. Right now, the most important thing is to bring stability to Iraq from the present situation. An inquiry such as this would be more to prove that opponents were right about the war rather than protecting Iraqi civilians in the now. Let's clean up the mess we've made before we start recriminations.
Michael Moszczynski, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Yes, there should be an inquiry! I am absolutely ashamed and sickened by what is going on in this terrible war. I am very sorry for what the Iraqi people are going through and it must end.
Misty, Santa Rosa, CA, USA

An inquiry won't help the Iraqi people. It would be more useful to send the money that the inquiry would cost to bolster the reconstruction.
Tim J, UK

On the major news networks we get daily figures of US casualties, but when the administration is asked about civilian deaths, the answer we get is " we don't count the numbers". The perception right or wrong, is that they don't care what the human cost is to this war.
Nabeel Al Mehairbi, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Tony Blair seemed to know how many Iraqis were killed by Saddam, but is clueless how many the coalition forces have killed. An independent investigation, in this regard is a must.
Bhanu, Pokhra, Nepal

Yes there should be an independent inquiry. We need to know how many people died because of this stupid war. I know some of the killing is down to insurgents, but I blame the British and American governments for creating that situation. The invasion of Iraq has made Iraq, and as a result the rest of a world, a more dangerous place.
Paul, England

The need for an investigation is shown by the wide range of the estimates of death and injury that currently pose as fact. At least if the figures are properly verified the world can make a reasoned judgement of the effect of the war. Presently all we have is wild speculation, coloured according to the political bias of the person speaking.
Barry P, Havant England

One of the great reasons why England has taken part in this terrible war is the restoration of democracy in Iraq
Paris, Cambridge, UK
One of the great reasons why England has taken part in this terrible war is the restoration of democracy in Iraq. Suppression of any such inquiry would imply that the government's policies about this war have not been entirely legitimate or democratic. An independent inquiry should therefore definitely be allowed.
Paris, Cambridge, UK

I'm afraid that it is rather telling that, whilst rejecting other people's figures, neither the UK nor US governments have figures of their own. For me, that puts into context the post-invasion claim that this was all about the people of Iraq. So yes, there absolutely should be an inquiry, so we know the answer.
Katherine, London, UK

Yes, there should be an inquiry! Despite the fact that Bush was re-elected in my country, there are many of us here who care about Iraqi lives as much as we care about US and UK casualties. My heart breaks for what we're doing in Iraq.
Ann Oliver Cothran, Belton, South Carolina, USA

We seem to be living in the age of 'inquiries'. This is ridiculous and achieves nothing. It's just a pen pushing exercise and a waste of time and money. It's not that we shouldn't care about casualties, we just can't do anything about it.
Rachel Cope, Kingswinford, UK

I am staggered by Rachel Cope's comments. There is nothing we can do so why bother counting. There is something we can do, stop dropping bombs and firing missiles at innocent civilians.
Kevin, Watford UK

Saddam's brutal regime was responsible for a huge amount of suffering but this does not excuse what has happened since
Colin, UK
The figures in the Lancet may well be wrong but the fact remains that the UK government sanctioned action that led to the death of many thousands of ordinary Iraqis. People in Iraq have been killed as a result of military action as well as the failure of coalition forces to secure the peace. It is true that Saddam's brutal regime was responsible for a huge amount of suffering but this does not excuse what has happened since he was removed from power. The occupying forces have an obligation under international law to maintain security and protect civilians. An independent inquiry would establish whether they are anywhere near to achieving that objective.
Colin, UK

In the upcoming general election Tony Blair will point to Iraq stating that the people are better off now than under Saddam Hussein. I would like proof that this is the case and to know the price the Iraqi people have paid.
Steve, London

This claim that the coalition cannot estimate civilian casualties is manifestly rubbish. After all they seem to have no trouble estimating rebel casualties. They are just hiding the figure for fear of public reaction. They should be forced to release their estimates or allow a neutral party to perform the estimates for them.
Richard Read, London, UK

And what would an inquiry achieve? It's not that people don't care. It's just that, whatever the proof, it will make no difference to those in charge. The real 'inquiry' will be the next UK elections. America has already defined herself by supporting Bush. Are we to follow the same route by re-electing Blair?
Gerry Noble, Salisbury, UK

Any human being should not only care but should be abhorred by civilian deaths
Brian, Poole, UK
There most certainly should be an inquiry. We are told by the government that the figures published in The Lancet are too high. How do they know if no count has ever taken place? As for the world caring, any human being should not only care but should be abhorred by civilian deaths.
Brian, Poole, UK

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific