(WASHINGTON D.C.) - A month has passed since Amnesty International released its report, "Will I Be Next?’ US Drone Strikes in Pakistan," but the Obama Administration still has not publicly acknowledged and investigated cases of potentially unlawful drone killings, including that of Mamana Bibi, a grandmother who was struck by a drone's hellfire missiles and killed while collecting vegetables in her family's fields.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Administration to disclose who is being killed and on what basis, and to ensure investigations into all credible reports of unlawful drone killings. It has also called on Congress to launch a full investigation and report any evidence of human rights violations to the public.
Thirty days after the release of Amnesty International's report, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA Steven W. Hawkins issued the following statement:
"The Administration wants everyone to take it on trust that they are being transparent and that 'targeted' killings are lawful, but the reality is that people have been killed who were not fighters and were not posing an imminent threat and there's no known government investigation and no official acknowledgment. The spokespeople are referring us back to President Obama's speech, but this secrecy is totally counter to what he pledged six months ago."
Journalists have pushed the White House and the State Department to respond to the detailed evidence of unlawful killings that Amnesty International collected. Activists mobilized and thousands signed the petition calling for independent and impartial investigations into the killings and for disclosure of who is being killed and why. Last week, the U.S. State Department said its review of the report had "concluded", but it refused to confirm or deny the killings Amnesty International has documented or provide the civilian casualty numbers it previously said it possessed.
The State Department's reply referenced remarks President Obama made half a year ago at National Defense University. In that May 2013 speech, the president pledged to increase transparency and accountability on drone strikes. Yet with the Administration refusing to officially acknowledge specific cases of possible unlawful killings or unintended deaths, there is little indication this pledge will be kept.
Amnesty International's recommendations to the U.S. government include:
- President Obama should disclose the facts and legal basis for the killings documented in Amnesty International's report. He should immediately commit to ensuring independent and impartial investigations into the documented killings and any other cases where there is reasonable ground to believe that drone strikes resulted in unlawful killings.
- The Intelligence and Armed Services committees of Congress, which are charged with oversight of the CIA and Department of Defense, respectively, should promptly launch independent and impartial investigations into the killings documented in Amnesty International’s report, and all cases where there is reasonable ground to believe that drone strikes resulted in unlawful killings.
- The U.S. government should ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes, including family members of victims of unlawful killings, have effective access to remedies, including reparation for harm suffered. Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, the U.S. should bring those responsible to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
- The U.S. government should end its practice of secrecy and disclose key factual and legal information about the drone program, including all available information on the number and identity of people killed or injured from drone strikes in Pakistan.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.