Time for the US to drone up

It’s a rare achievement to have an Amnesty report as the top ranked story on Google News, but that has been the case throughout today. In our new report on drones, Amnesty calls for the USA to be held to account over killings in Pakistan.

The use of drones in modern warfare is one of the most contentious moral issues of our time. Not surprising then that it was picked up in, amongst other outlets; The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, ITV News, BBC News, The Daily Mail, The Huffington Post, Buzz Feed and The Express.

You can read this comment piece from our Director Kate Allen on Indy Voices, in which she marvels at the speed with which drones have so rapidly become an accepted feature of contemporary combat.

Worth though, contemplating their use anew. Imagine if it wasn’t the USA which was deploying pilotless assassination machines in the skies of another country. Imagine perhaps that it was China, or Russia, or Iran. What then? Would we be so readily complacent? Or does the deployment of drones suddenly seem more sinister?

Our detailed research concludes that civilians have definitely been killed. Unarmed, innocent civilians. In some of the instances covered in the report, there can be no question that unlawful killings have taken place. In other instances it is perhaps more ambiguous. For example the classification of an area as a war zone. Amnesty certainly disputes the US “global war” narrative, but in some cases Waziristan, where the research focuses, might play host to a spill-over of the war in neighbouring Afghanistan. Is that the legal basis that the US is relying on in determining its terms of engagement? The answer is we simply don’t know. We don’t know because of the utter lack of transparency surrounding the drones programme. That veil of secrecy applies not only to the US, but also to UK involvement.  That simply cannot go on. Both the UK and the US must drone up. You can read the report here.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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