UN human right head questions legality of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan

At the end of a fact finding visit to Pakistan Navi Pillay raised serious questions about their legality under international law. U.S. officials constantly praise the program and parade names of Al Qaeda leaders killed in the raids.

When human rights agencies try to seek information on the strikes the fact that they even exist becomes classified information but when there is propaganda value to be gained by releasing information there are names of leaders killed and the numbers of suspected militants eliminated.

The general mantra justifying the attacks is present by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta as defending the U.S. However the notion of self defense in this case is surely a stretch as there may be no immediate threat.

Pakistan summoned the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan to complain of the attacks. Pakistan complains the attacks violate its sovereignty. The parliament has demanded the attacks cease. However at the same time it would seem that Pakistani intelligence may help out with targeting. Recently the U.S. has stepped up attacks even in the face of the Pakistani demand that the drone attacks cease as a condition of reopening NATO supply routes. By deliberately snubbing their noses at the Pakistani demands the U.S. makes it politically difficult for the Pakistani government to compromise.

Pillay was concerned about several aspects of the attacks. Pillay noted:"Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law, in particular the principle of distinction and proportionality," She continues:"Ensuring accountability for any failure to comply with international law is also difficult when drone attacks are conducted outside the military chain of command" Pillay argues that the attacks carried out by the CIA are"beyond effective and transparent mechanisms of civilian or military control". Of course somehow or other the New York times is able to get a lot of background information which shows that a committee assess who is to be on the kill list and the President of the U.S. makes the final decision. These are all the marvelous accountability provisions. Of course one knows only what is revealed by the New York Times from material fed to them by the U.S. administration. Pillay will no doubt rile the U.S.since she suggested that Pakistan should ask the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary or Arbitrary Executions to investigate some of the incidents. Many critics claim that significant numbers of innocent people are killed in the strikes. For more see this article.


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