DeM Banter: Increasingly having to go to foreign papers for data… or maybe it is just me…and then there’s this…as we leave the AOR…what will be the US legacy?
Islamabad, www.telegraph.co.uk / View Original / October 22nd, 2013
Amnesty International says US may be guilty of war crimes over its use of drone strikes after finding evidence of civilian deaths
Human rights campaigners will today demand that American officials be held responsible for illegal killings carried out by drones and call for greater transparency over its secret programme.
A new report by Amnesty International details how civilians have been killed in Pakistan – including a 68-year-old grandmother who died in her family’s fields – and warns the US that some deaths may amount to war crimes.
It comes amid intense scrutiny of the CIA’s covert drone programme.
Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, is in Washington where he is expected to raise the issue of drones with Barack Obama days before a United Nations debate on the subject.
The strikes are intensely controversial in Pakistan, where they are frequently blamed for killing civilians and driving young men to terrorism.
In its report, Amnesty also asked the UK not to share intelligence, facilities or specialist components that might be used in strikes.
Mustafa Qadri, the report’s author, said: “Secrecy surrounding the drones programme gives the US administration a license to kill beyond the reach of the courts or basic standards of international law. It’s time for the USA to come clean about the drones programme and hold those responsible for these violations to account,” he said.
“What hope for redress can there be for victims of drone attacks and their families when the USA won’t even acknowledge its responsibility for particular strikes?”
Amnesty reviewed all 45 known drone strikes that took place in North Waziristan in north-western Pakistan between January 2012 and August this year. Contrary to official claims that those killed were “terrorists”, campaigners concluded that in a number of cases the victims were not involved in armed activity and posed no threat to life.
In July last year, researchers found that 18 labourers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in multiple strikes on a village close to the border with Afghanistan as they were about to eat an evening meal at the end of work.
In October 2012, Mamana Bibi was killed in a double strike – apparently by a Hellfire missile – as she picked vegetables in the family’s fields while surrounded by her grandchildren.
In a report published last week, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism , found that 400 civilians had been killed in Pakistan’s tribal areas – more than the US had ever publicly confirmed.
However, Ben Emmerson also said that unmanned aerial vehicles could reduce the risk of civilian casualties if used in accordance with international humanitarian law.