Saturday, 26 May 2012

Drones and targeted killings - churches' report released

The front page of the Times runs the story on the case brought by Reprieve on behalf of Noor Khan whose father was one of 40 people killed by a strike believed to have been carried out by a US unmanned drone. Noor Khan and Reprieve seek a judicial review that will require the Foreign Secretary to disclose whether the UK is passing intelligence to the United States in support of the CIA’s drone strikes in Northern Pakistan. Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, said he would be "astonished" if this were not the case.

At Methodist Conference in 2011 Rt Rev. Humphrey Peters, Bishop of Peshawar, spoke in support of a request by conference for an ethical study on the use of drones. The output from this study has been made available online today.  (The Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have joined Methodists in this study).  The piece in the Times on Friday is illustrative of two conclusions of our report. Firstly, we assert that the killing of named individuals in northern Pakistan is illegitimate under international law (although the US Government appeals to the contrary). Drones are ideally suited for targeted killings.

Secondly, that much greater accountability is required over the use of drones. This also extends to the role of the UK’s own drones in counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan where it appears that they are used to track and kill named insurgents.

The report will be debated at Methodist Conference and United Reformed Church General Assembly at the beginning of July. Watch this space ...