(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's Security with Human Rights campaign, issued the following in response to Attorney General Eric Holder's appearance today in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee:
"At today's hearing, we heard from Attorney General Holder that President Barack Obama is aware of the concerns about transparency with respect to the administration's drone strike policy, and that the president will address the issue in the coming months.
"Transparency is long overdue and very important – but it is not the end goal. The end goal is to make sure no person – U.S. citizen or anyone else – is killed outside the bounds of the law and to ensure accountability for any killings found to be unlawful.
"The information already available about the administration's 'targeted killing' gives grounds to conclude that the Obama administration's drone policy and its implementation disregard international protections for the right to life and the prohibition of the arbitrary deprivation of life. In some cases, the policy appears to allow for unlawful killings referred to in human rights terms as 'extrajudicial executions.'
"To make sure no person is unlawfully killed, President Obama must waste no more time and publicly commit to following the 'rule book' that already exists for the use of lethal force: international human rights law and, in the exceptional circumstances where it applies, international humanitarian law as well.
"Congress must make sure this happens. The Senate Judiciary Committee was right to press Attorney General Holder on drones today and to schedule a hearing about drones for March 20th. However the scope of that hearing must expand to address the use of force outside of the United States and include testimony from survivors of drone strikes and independent experts in international human rights and humanitarian law."
For further information, please see Amnesty International’s two most recent reports on so-called "targeted killings."
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.