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8 Dec 2004

Dear Prime Minister,

The medical journal The Lancet recently published a study that estimates the post-invasion Iraqi death toll at 98,000. The same study reported that the risk of death from violence among Iraqis is vastly higher than it was before the war began. You have rejected these findings, but offer no comparable assessment of your own.

As you know, your government is obliged under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population during military operations in Iraq, and you have consistently promised to do so. However, without counting the dead and injured, no one can know whether Britain and its Coalition partners are meeting these obligations.

We therefore urge you immediately to commission a comprehensive, independent inquiry to determine with the greatest possible accuracy how many Iraqis have died or been injured since March 2003 - and the cause of those casualties.

The inquiry should be independent of government, conducted according to accepted scientific methods and subjected to peer review so that all parties can be confident of the findings. It should report regularly to Parliament and the public for as long as British forces remain in Iraq.

Yours sincerely,