Drone deaths rise in Afghanistan and Yemen; yet drop in Pakistan
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/13/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
There's bad news, and some good news. United Nations special investigator on counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson says that while there has been an increase in civilian deaths related to drones in Yemen and Afghanistan, there has been a "significant de-escalation" in civilian casualties recorded in Pakistan.
United Nations special investigator on counterterrorism Ben Emmerson says that while there has been an increase in civilian deaths related to drones in Yemen and Afghanistan, there has been a "significant de-escalation" in civilian casualties recorded in Pakistan.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Emmerson presented his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva this week. His findings highlighted at least 59 civilian casualties in 19 drone strikes in 2013 in Afghanistan, which was a significant rise on the previous year.
In regards to Yemen, Emmerson said: "The frequency of armed drone strikes appears to have intensified, particularly during the closing months of 2013, with a sharp escalation in the number of reported civilian casualties." Part of these figures included a well publicized December attack when at least 12 people believed to be part of a wedding convoy were killed.
"But or the first time in nine years there were no reports of civilian casualties during 2013 in the [tribal areas] of Pakistan," he said.
Emmerson noted that the U.S. military had reduced attacks against armed groups, limiting strikes to high-value targets in response to the country's growing criticism of the program. The total number of recorded strikes in 2013 was down to 27 from a peak of 128 in 2010, he said.
Pakistan has maintained that drone strikes hinder efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban and breach national sovereignty.
Amnesty International says that Emmerson's report may not be a definitive study of all drone strikes, and is based on the information that was available to him.
"Last year there were some reports that specific drone strikes resulted in civilian casualties [in Pakistan], but owing to the prevailing secrecy of the US program and restrictions on access to these remote and lawless areas, it was impossible for us to investigate these claims further," Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty's Pakistan researcher says.
Qadri added that it was "impossible to give absolute answers because of legal issues of who may and may not be a 'combatant' or otherwise be lawfully targetable" without the U.S. being fully transparent about their operations.
"How and when strikes happen, who is being targeted and why - this uncertainty will remain, and victims will not be able to get the justice they deserve," Qadri said.
In response, Emmerson says that his team "received no reports from any reliable source alleging civilian casualties during 2013 in Pakistan."
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