Tag Archives: CIA drone war Pakistan

Pakistani Courts and the CIA Drone War

raven drone

A judge at the High Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, has ordered the Pakistani police to open a criminal investigation into the CIA’s involvement in a drone strike that killed three people, including a teenager, on December 31 2009. Ruling in the case of Kareem Khan, a resident of the country’s North Waziristan region whose brother and son were among the dead, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered police to examine whether Jonathan Banks, former CIA station chief in Islamabad, and John Rizzo, former CIA General Counsel, are guilty of committing murder, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the provisions of the Terrorism Act 1997 for their involvement in authorizing the New Years’ Eve strike.

Mr Khan first brought the case in 2011 with support from the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) in Pakistan. In February this year Mr Khan, who has been an outspoken critic of the covert US programme, was illegally detained for ten days by unknown men in police uniforms, ahead of a European trip where he spoke to parliamentarians about the civilian impact of the US drone programme.Commenting on the judgement, Kareem Khan said: “Today’s order is a victory for all those innocent civilians that have been killed in US-led drone strikes in Pakistan. I also feel heartened that people like me in Waziristan might now also be able to get justice for the wrongs being done to them. I sincerely hope that the authorities now do their job and investigate the culprits”.

Jennifer Gibson, attorney for legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Khan, said: “Today’s decision marks a crucial first step in finally providing justice for people like Kareem – the innocent victims of the CIA’s illegal drone wars. The message is clear – there can be no impunity for the killing of innocent people. The police in Pakistan should move to launch their investigation as soon as possible.”

Pakistani High Court orders police to investigate CIA drone strikes, Reprieve Press Release, June 5, 2014

UK to Blame for the CIA Drone War?

A human rights group and a law firm took legal action Monday (March 12, 2012) against the British government, accusing it of passing on intelligence to assist U.S. covert drone attacks in Pakistan.  The London-based charity Reprieve and the law firm Leigh Day & Co. are filing papers to the High Court claiming that civilian staff at Britain’s electronic listening agency, GCHQ, could be liable as “secondary parties to murder” for providing “locational intelligence” to the CIA in directing its drone attack program.

The two are acting on behalf of Noor Khan, 27, a Pakistani whose father was killed by a drone strike in northwest Pakistan in March 2011 while attending a gathering of elders. More than 40 other people were killed in that attack, they said.

Reprieve, which helps death row prisoners and Guantanamo Bay inmates, urged the British government to be more transparent about its role — if any — in the drone program.  “What has the government got to hide? If they’re not supplying information as part of the CIA’s illegal drone war, why not tell us?” Reprieve director Clive Stafford Smith said.

British officials have never commented publicly on the drones. The Foreign Office and GCHQ declined comment on the legal action Monday, saying they could not speak about ongoing legal proceedings or and intelligence matters.

Since 2004, CIA drones have targeted suspected militants with missile strikes in the Pakistani tribal regions, killing hundreds of people. The program is controversial because of questions about its legality, the number of civilians it has killed, and its impact on Pakistan’s sovereignty.  U.S. officials do not publicly acknowledge the covert drone program but they have said privately that the strikes harm very few innocents and are key to weakening Al Qaeda and other militant groups.

Leigh Day & Co. did not detail what evidence the firm has regarding Britain’s alleged role in the drone program, but it cited media reports that quoted an anonymous GCHQ source as saying that the assistance it gave to the U.S. authorities was in ‘strict accordance’ with the law.  The law firm disputed that, saying GCHQ staff may be guilty of war crimes by passing along detailed intelligence to a drone program that violates international humanitarian law.

UK government sued for helping US drone strikes, Associated Press, March 12, 2012