When making a definitive decision on whether a victim was a civilian was not possible, the main strategies of recorders were to (a) record a status and state its ambiguity, (b) keep the case pending or unpublished, (c) use an 'unknown status' category, or (d) record the total number of people killed in an incident and numbers of those with a known status.
- Record a status and state its ambiguity. Recorders would use the status that was best supported by the evidence, but show ( through notes or a tool such as a verification scale) what their decision was based on.
- Keep the case pending or unpublished. Some recorders choose to not make a categorisation, not publish or release the case of a victim, and not include the case in the numbers they release, until more evidence becomes available.
- Use an ‘unknown status’ category. These cases are updated when new information emerges. This strategy allows recorders to show the extent of human losses in a conflict without having to make a conclusive (and possibly controversial) decision on status for every victim.
- Record the total number of people killed in an incident and numbers of those with a known status. Several incident-based recorders use a ‘people killed’ or ‘total killed’ category for each incident. This might work alongside the use of ranges, to demonstrate the state of knowledge about the number of victims and their status. A recorder might report that an incident killed 4-6 people, 2 of which were civilians and 1-2 combatants. The remaining 2-3 victims were not assigned a status, but just kept in the total figures.
DEFINITION AND CATEGORISATION IN CASUALTY RECORDING, p. 26