Pakistani lawyer presents evidence from US drone attack litigation

May 6, 2011

Pakistani human rights lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar presents evidence from his pioneering lawsuit for victims of US drone attacks in Waziristan, Pakistan

Press Conference: 12 midday, Monday 9th May Esmee Fairbairn Foundation Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG ***RSVP essential*** Speakers: Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Advocate, Pakistan High Court Clive Stafford Smith, Director, Reprieve Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer who brought the first ever legal case against the CIA in Pakistan on behalf of a victim of a US drone attack, will speak about his work at midday on Monday at Kings Place, London. Kareem Khan approached Islamabad-based Shahzad after losing his son and brother in a US drone strike in Waziristan. Shahzad then filed an unprecedented criminal complaint against the head of the CIA in Pakistan, forcing that official to flee the country. Shahzad also filed a wrongful death tort action on behalf of Kareem Khan and has investigated and identified many other victims whom he hopes to represent in future lawsuits. According to one public source, up to 2,283 people have been killed by US unmanned aircraft, or ‘drones’, since 2004 — with the numbers rapidly escalating in the past two years under President Obama. Preliminary investigations by Reprieve suggest that this figure masks an unknown number of innocent victims. Without doubt, the victims include a significant number of women and children.

A barrister at Lincoln’s Inn, Mirza Shahzad Akbar now practises in the Islamabad office of the corporate law firm Farooq Law Associates. He previously worked as a prosecutor for the National Accountability Bureau, where he assisted in corruption cases against Pakistani officials, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Shahzad also teaches human rights law at the Islamic University in Islamabad and is the founder of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, an organization whose aim is “to work towards the advancement, protection and enforcement of Fundamental Human Rights in and outside of Pakistan for the welfare of all Pakistani citizens.” Reprieve lawyer Tara Murray said: “I was reduced to tears when I heard Shahzad Akbar’s client, Kareem Khan, speak about the tragic and senseless loss of his son and brother as a result of an unlawful US drone strike on his home. Shahzad’s work on this case, and on behalf of a community of people who have been devastated by the US’s indiscriminate drones campaign in Pakistan, is nothing short of remarkable. He is truly giving voice to the voiceless.” To attend the press conference or for further information please contact Katherine O’Shea or Donald Campbell at Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0)20 73534640 / 07931592674.