Sunday 23rd October 2016                 Change text size:

US drones a breach of human rights laws, says Amnesty International

US drone by bobosh_t via Flickr

A joint investigation by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International has condemned the use of drones in US attacks on Pakistan and Yemen, claiming it amounts to a breach of international human rights laws.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch issued a report on its website detailing the findings of its investigation, claiming attacks on communities where terrorist targets are said to be living were “a clear violation of international humanitarian law”.

The summary of the report details an incident in August 2012, when a US drone attacked individual targets in Khashamir, a village in southeast Yemen. According to the report, two of the men that were killed were respected members of the community who had been contacted by the three Al-Qaeda men demanding a meeting because they had spoken out against the terrorist group at their mosque the week before.

Cases such as this, according to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, breach the laws of war.

Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan researcher, said, “Secrecy surrounding the drones program 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 program and hold those responsible for these violations to account”. 

The ethical implications of drones have also been questioned by campaign groups. Earlier this month, a group of protestors stood trial for charges of criminal damage at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court after they broke into RAF Waddington in protest of the remote operation of drones from the Lincolnshire air base.

District Judge John Stobart said it was with a “heavy heart” that he found them guilty, and ordered each to pay £10 in compensation to RAF Waddington to repair the fence.

The Rev Dr Keith Hebden, one of the protestors, commented on the Judge’s verdict, saying, “Because we wanted to save lives that are thousands of miles away, our defence that our crime was necessary was rejected.”

Further reading:

Protestors arrested at RAF base want to ‘put drones on trial’

University of Edinburgh ditches US drone investment after student concern

Ban on ‘killer robots’ urgently needed, say human rights campaigners

The sextet of sin: investing in war and death

MOD report on legal immunity ‘entirely biased’, says law firm

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