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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act, introduced today by Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Walter Jones, is a crucial step toward ending the accountability vacuum for potentially unlawful U.S. drone strikes, Amnesty International USA said today.
“The White House approach to drone killings has been ‘trust us,’ but that’s untenable,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Instead of responding with generalizations to our documentation of potentially unlawful drone killings, the White House needs to provide the data it’s apparently sitting on. This bill is a first step, and ultimately the White House needs to commit to a process of accountability.”
If the bill passes, the White House will be required to disclose the number of people killed in U.S. drone strikes since 2008. The bill also requires the Administration to provide its definitions of “combatant” and “civilian” – unknowns that have been especially glaring in the context of so-called “rescuer attacks,” in which local residents came to the scene of an initial drone strike only to be struck in follow-up strikes. Amnesty International documented the practice in its October 2013 report, “Will I Be Next? U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan.”
Amnesty International and several human rights and civil rights groups endorsed the bill in a joint statement of support released today.
“The Administration’s policy of extreme secrecy has left family members and survivors of unlawful strikes without any answers,” Hawkins said. “Instead of treating them with dignity and acknowledging what happened, the Administration has offered silence and generalized denials. This is a tone-deaf and wrong-headed approach to human rights that is completely counter to what the Administration claims to stand for.”
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers 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.