USA had unlawful killings in Pakistan through its drone attacks, Amnesty International revealed in a comprehensive report from a human rights perspective released on Oct 22.
The report titled, "'Will I be next?' US drone strikes in Pakistan", detailed the current killings happening in Pakistan and U.S.'s absence of transparency about its unlawful drone attacks.
Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International's Pakistan Researcher, said that U.S.'s absence of transparency about its drone programme gave the U.S. government a "license to kill."
"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. 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?" Mr Qadri stated.
To compile the report, Amnesty International reviewed 45 known drone attacks that happened in North Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan. These attacks happened between Jan 2012 and Aug 2013. North Waziristan had experienced most of the drone attacks from the U.S.
Amnesty International did a thorough field research into nine of the attacks that occurred between Jan 2012 to Aug 2013.
The rights group had found out that contrary to what U.S. officials claim that those people killed were terrorists, the research revealed that those who had been killed were not involved in the war and posed no threat to life.
"We cannot find any justification for these killings. There are genuine threats to the USA and its allies in the region, and drone strikes may be lawful in some circumstances. But it is hard to believe that a group of labourers, or an elderly woman surrounded by her grandchildren, were endangering anyone at all, let alone posing an imminent threat to the United States," explained Mr Qadri.
"The tragedy is that drone aircraft deployed by the USA over Pakistan now instill the same kind of fear in the people of the tribal areas that was once associated only with al-Qa'ida and the Taliban," Mr Qadri added.
The U.S. upheld that their drone programme is a "global war" doctrine as part of its borderless war with al- Qa'ida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
The U.S. had already vowed to increase transparency about its drone activities as supported by President Barrack Obama's speech in May 2013. However, the U.S. had not fulfilled this promise.
Also, Amnesty International expressed its concern that some officials in Pakistan and countries like Australia, Germany and U.K. may be supporting the U.S. in conducting these unlawful drone strikes.
"Pakistan must provide access to justice and other remedies for victims of drone strikes. The authorities of Pakistan, Australia, Germany and the UK must also investigate all officials and institutions suspected of involvement in US drone strikes or other abuses in the tribal areas that may constitute human rights violations. The Pakistani authorities must disclose information on all US drone strikes they have documented and what measures they have taken or will take to assist victims of these strikes," as emphasised by Mr Qadri.
The Amnesty International, through its "'Will I be next?' US drone strikes in Pakistan" report called for the U.S. to:
- Publicly disclose the facts and legal basis for drone strikes carried out in Pakistan and information about any investigation into killings by US drones.
- Ensure prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all cases where there are reasonable grounds to believe that drone strikes resulted in unlawful killings.
- Bring those responsible for unlawful drone strikes to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
- Ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes, including family members of victims of unlawful killings, have effective access to justice, compensation and other remedies.
For the Pakistani authorities to:
- Provide adequate access to justice and reparations for victims of US drone strikes and attacks by Pakistan forces, and seek reparations and other remedies for drone strikes from the US authorities.
- Bring to justice, in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty, individuals responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses in North Waziristan. This should include US drone strikes, attacks by the Pakistan armed forces, or groups like the Taliban and al-Qa'ida.
- Publicly disclose information on all US drone strikes that the Pakistani
And the international community to:
- Oppose US drone strikes and other killings that violate international law and urge the USA and Pakistan to take the measures outlined above. States should officially protest and pursue remedies under international law when lethal force is unlawfully used by the USA or other states.
- Refrain from participating in any way in US drone strikes that violate international law, including by sharing intelligence or facilities.
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