Drone deaths tantamount to war crimes, says report

In this December 10, 2010 photo, Pakistani villagers hold a rally to condemn U.S. drone attacks on their villages, in Islamabad. Amnesty International has called on the U.S. to probe reported civilian casualties from CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and compensate victims.   | Photo Credit: B.K. Bangash

Leading a flurry of reports focusing on the human cost of drone deaths in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, a scathing study released by Amnesty International on Tuesday said critics believed that some among the “hundreds of civilian deaths… may amount to extrajudicial executions or war crimes.”

The Amnesty report titled “‘Will I be next?’ U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan,” comes close on the heels of similar findings by Human Rights Watch and two United Nations Special Rapporteurs in recent days.

Taken together the reports may well be the cloud that hangs over the meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and U.S. President Barack Obama when they meet here this week. According to reports, Mr. Sharif has promised to urge Mr. Obama to end drone strikes, which are said to fuel anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

Similar to the other studies, Amnesty argued that the circumstances of civilian deaths from drone strikes in northwest Pakistan were “disputed,” and claims by the Obama administration that individual assassinations were based on “reliable intelligence, are extremely accurate,” did not appear convincing in the face of a slew of on-the-ground witness reports, including from families of victims.

Among them a prominent case cited was that of 68-year-old Mamana Bibi, who was killed on a sunny afternoon in October 2012 in “a drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her”. The report detailed that incident, which her grandchildren were said to have “recounted in painful detail… moment when Mamana Bibi, who was gathering vegetables in the family fields in Ghundi Kala village, northwest Pakistan, was blasted into pieces before their eyes”.

Underscoring the lack of official response from those responsible for this and numerous other killings, Amnesty said though a year had passed Mamana Bibi’s family was yet to receive even “any acknowledgment that it was the U.S. that killed her, let alone justice or compensation for her death.”

While the Amnesty report was not a comprehensive survey of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan it was a qualitative assessment based on detailed field research into nine of the 45 reported strikes that occurred in North Waziristan tribal agency between January 2012 and August 2013, along with a survey of publicly available information on all reported drone strikes in Pakistan over the same period.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 7:29:20 PM |

Next Story