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Friday, October 25, 2013

Drone Strikes: Human Rights Violations?

PSA on American Drones killing Pakistani Children, Public Domain
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are calling on the U.S. to investigate reports on the legality of drone strikes. Both groups have released reports citing civilian deaths by the unmanned aircrafts between September 2012 and June 2013 in Yemen and Pakistan.

Amnesty International alleges that heavy civilian casualties in Pakistan from the drone strikes may constitute war crimes and be a violation of Geneva codes.  Drone Watch, an organization which investigates drone strikes by the U.S. in Pakistan, reported that as of last January more than 3000 people have been killed due to the strikes. Drone Watch claims that “the vast majority of them civilians.” In the same report, Drone Watch listed the names and ages of 172 of the dead –all of them children
Human Rights Watch alleged that of the 82 people killed by unmanned aircraft and other aerial strikes in Yemen 57 of them were civilian casualties.

The U.S. is standing firm against the allegations by the two groups. Jay Carney, President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, says the U.S. “would strongly agree” with claims that the U.S. acted improperly. Carney claims that all applicable law was followed with the drone strikes.

Information about drone strikes is hard to get. There is a large discrepancy with the numbers of actual drone strikes that have taken place and the real number of civilian casualties. The CIA and the Pentagon do not reveal details of the strikes, nor do they report all of them.  Those who are killed by a drone strike, if a report is documented, are listed as “enemy combatants.” 

“Enemy combatants” can be any male over the age of 12 considered to be an enemy fighter by the U.S.  This directly conflicts with the Geneva Conventions which requires all those under the age of 16 to be classified as “protected civilians.” 

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