In response to the October 22 court verdict in the aftermath of the Earthquake in L’Aquila in which scientists were found guilty of multiple manslaughter, the ISCRAM Association Board wants to express its concern and releases the following statement.
The ISCRAM Association wishes to express its support to the scientists convicted on October 22nd for manslaughter following the Earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy. In our opinion the verdict cannot be justified, and inappropriately places liability on the scientific community, whose task should be to provide an unbiased and independent basis for decision-making.
The ISCRAM Association’s primary mission is to foster a community dedicated to promoting research and development, exchange of knowledge and deployment of information systems for crisis management, including the social, technical and practical aspects of all information and communication systems used or to be used in all phases of management of emergencies, disasters and crises. Therefore ISCRAM is strongly concerned about the impact the verdict could have on the communication of scientific results on crisis management, including risk assessment, risk reduction and mitigation. It is likely that this verdict could prevent scientists and other experts from taking on public advisory roles, whilst their contributions are legitimate and essential as part of managing the risk from natural disasters.
Sentencing scientists for ineffective communication of the risk of extreme events is inappropriate and unjust because the science behind risk assessment is fraught with unavoidable uncertainty. We hereby express our sincere hope that the verdict will be revised for all the reasons mentioned above.
The Board of Directors, ISCRAM Association