Last Update 16:1
Tuesday, 22 October 2019

UN rights experts 'seriously' concerned about Yemen drone strikes

AFP , Thursday 26 Dec 2013
Views: 1178
Views: 1178

UN human rights experts on Thursday expressed "serious concern" about lethal drone attacks allegedly conducted by US forces in Yemen, that resulted in civilian casualties this month.

The UN said in a statement that 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 injured when two separate wedding processions were targeted by drones in the country on 12 December.

The victims had been mistakenly identified as members of Al-Qaeda, the UN quoted local security officials as saying.

"If armed drones are to be used, States must adhere to international humanitarian law, and should disclose the legal basis for their operational responsibility and criteria for targeting," said Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

"Yemen cannot consent to violations of the right to life of people in its territory," he added.

The US military operates all unmanned aircraft flying over Yemen in support of Sanaa's campaign against Al-Qaeda and has killed dozens of militants in a sharply intensified campaign this year.

But Washington faces mounting criticism over the use of drones in its "war on terror".

Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez also expressed concern about the legitimacy of the December 12 airstrikes, highlighting that the states involved had a duty to investigate the reported incidents and their effect on civilians.

"A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if, as in this case, it results in serious physical or mental pain and suffering for the innocent victims," Mendez said.

Heyns stressed the need for accountability when drones were used.

He called on the United States and Yemen to disclose whether they were responsible, and if so, what targeting standards were used, how many civilians were killed, and whether they plan to provide compensation for the victims' families.

Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and the home base of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which the United States views as the global jihadist network's most dangerous franchise.

Critics say drones in Yemen have claimed numerous civilian lives -- although the precise number remains unclear -- and have demanded an end to the secrecy surrounding their use.

Yemen's parliament this month voted for a ban on drone strikes, but experts say lawmakers have limited powers and are unlikely to impact Washington's campaign.

According to November figures from the Washington-based New America Foundation, a think-tank that has tried to track and vet the numbers, 93 strikes since 2002 have killed 684 to 891 people, including between 64 and 66 civilians.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

© 2010 Ahram Online.