TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Drone use a war crime, human rights groups claim

Daily Photo Galleries

By Reuters
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, 8:09 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — Human rights groups on Tuesday accused the United States of breaking international law and perhaps committing war crimes by killing civilians in missile and drone strikes that were intended to hit militants in Pakistan and Yemen.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released separate reports detailing the deaths of dozens of civilians in the two countries. They urged the Obama administration and Congress to investigate, and end a policy of secrecy on the attacks.

“In some of the cases we looked at ... they appear to be war crimes, but really the full picture is for the U.S. authorities to reveal,” Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International, said when describing the death of a 68-year-old Pakistani grandmother in an alleged drone strike.

“We are saying for the U.S. authorities to come clean,” he said at a joint news conference with Human Rights Watch.

Responding to the reports, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama administration officials “take the matter of civilian casualties enormously seriously.” He said he could not speak to specific operations, but that policies met international and domestic legal obligations, and the standard of “near certainty” that civilians would not be hit.

Officials have argued that any drone strikes are very carefully targeted and that civilian casualties have been kept to a bare minimum, possibly in the low dozens.

Letta Tayler of Human Rights Watch said her organization had found violations of international law when civilians were “indiscriminately” killed in Yemen.

In a Sept. 2, 2012, attack, the target — an alleged al Qaeda militant, Abd al-Raouf al-Dahab, — was “nowhere in sight” when the United States hit a passenger van and killed 12 people returning from the market, she said.

“Their loved ones found their charred bodies in pieces on the roadside, dusted in flour and sugar that they were bringing home to their families,” Tayler said.

Both the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reports looked at a handful of U.S. attacks in Pakistan and Yemen to urge transparency and accountability in policy.

U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen increased dramatically after President Obama took office in 2009, and the pilotless aerial vehicles became a key part of the fight against al-Qaida. More recently, the number of strikes has slowed.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read World

  1. Venezuela’s Maduro says airlines wage ‘economic war’
  2. U.S.-led strikes hit IS group oil sites for 2nd day
  3. Coalition airstrikes fail to slow ISIS attacks on key cities
  4. Belgium accuses Muslim group of radicalizing, training youth to fight in Syria
  5. Netanyahu rebuts claim of genocide, accuses Iran
  6. With help from U.S.-led airstrikes, Kurds retake strategic border town
  7. Russian gas disruptions ‘test’ Poland
  8. Obama calls for dismantling IS ‘network of death’
  9. Islamic nations lobby Palestinians to join ICC
  10. Sides reach out to undecided in Hong Kong
  11. Obama, India PM forge deals on major issues
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.