Saturday, September 22, 2012

Emmerson Calls for an end to Drone Strikes in Pakistan

In a surprising, yet positive, statement, the UN Rapporteur for Human Rights and Counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, called on the US to answer questions regarding the secrecy of its drone operations.

To many, the statement came as a shock as such a demand was not made on the international level in the past from the US, and coming as it did from the UN, a body supposedly favoring the US, surprised many. Emmerson has been vocal on questioning the legality of the drones and the global outrage resulting from the Predator strikes.Commenting on the issue, 20th August, he said:

“We can’t make a decision on whether it is lawful or unlawful if we do not have the data. If they (the drone technology users) do not establish a mechanism (of internal investigation), it will be my recommendation that the UN should put the mechanisms in place through the Human RightsCouncil, the General Assembly and the Office of the High Commissioner.”
Soon after taking over, Emmerson made sure that highlighting the illegal use of drones and its drastic consequences were among his top priorities. He is also in the process of preparing a comprehensive report for the next session of the UN Human Rights Council in March, where he will report on the spike in the use of drone technology by the Obama administration.

Primarily known as an accomplished lawyer in the United Kingdom, Emmerson is also working for the promotion of fair trials and compensation for innocent war victims. He is also trying to change the international narrative on terrorism and terrorists, where every war prisoner is tagged as a terrorist, with most of them not having the opportunity of a fair trial. But more importantly, his stance on drone attacks, and especially their rise in Pakistan, has started a serious debate in international circles over the morality and legality of the issue.

The recent pace of CIA-operated drone strikes increased in the month of August in Waziristan – Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) – Pakistan. In total, seven drone attacks took place in a month, the highest number in a single month for the current year. The first use of drone attacks was reported in a article in New York Times in 2008, and since then their use has been carried on unabated. A total of 32 drone strikes have hit FATA in 2012. To date, close to 340 drone strikes have killed more than 800 civilians and have caused approximately 3,300 casualties, which, for reasons of media prohibitions in the region, are also dubious as to whether the victims were militants or civilians. More


This must also apply to Yemen and Somalia where the United States, throught their military and the Central Intelligence Agemcy (CIA) is operating similar programs. Editor