UN Expert Challenges Foundations of US Covert Drone War

A new report by Christof Heyns, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, challenges the lack of transparency in the growing use of drones, and their threats to civilian life and international law.

As Alice Ross writes at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ),

In his report, Heyns blasts drone strikes known as “double-tap” strikes, ones where a second strike follows a first to target rescuers, a tactic TBIJ documented the U.S. has used in its drone war. Heyns states that this is a war crime. He writes:

“Signature strikes,” as ProPublica explained, are when

In his report, Heyns questions the international legality of these kinds of drone attacks.

Heyns also notes the civilian harm caused by the drone war:

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The targets of drone strikes are not brought to trial, but slated for execution. And this, Heyns writes, defies “basic notions of humanity.”

He adds later in the report that

“This report rightly states that the US’ secretive drone war is a danger not only to innocent civilians on the ground but also to international security as a whole,” stated Kat Craig, Legal Director at UK-based human rights charity Reprieve, which represents a number of civilian victims of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

“The CIA’s campaign must be brought out of the shadows:  we need to see real accountability for the hundreds of civilians who have been killed – and justice for their relatives,” stated Craig.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, also submitted a report on Thursday on drones and targeted killings, and both his and Heyns’ reports will be debated at the UN General Assembly on October 25, 2013.


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