Court orders Pakistan Government to release names of drone strike victims

July 19, 2012

Image of a drone flying

The Peshawar High Court has ordered Pakistan’s Government to produce a record of all those killed in drone strikes in North and South Waziristan.

Chief Justice Dost Mohamed made the order in a hearing on Wednesday 18th July, in response to two constitutional petitions relating to a March 17 2012 strike on a North Waziristan jirga which killed 50 people.

The first petition was filed by Noor Khan over the death of his father; the second by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights on behalf of eight local families who lost family members in the attack.

In a dramatic day in court, the bench gave a last warning to government lawyers that they must submit a written reply to charges that a secret agreement between the USA and Pakistan existed on drone strikes in Pakistan. To date, only the Ministry of Defence has filed a reply denying such an agreement existed.

Acknowledging the relevance of the Geneva Conventions to drone attacks, the bench asked for comments on the implications of  international law on the case. Lawyer for the victims Shahzad Akbar will make detailed submissions on behalf of all petitioners at the subsequent hearing.

Noor Khan said: “In PHC we see hope and chance to get justice for brutal murder of my father and my tribe. Our state has left us to the mercy of drones which do not distinguish between innocent and militant – in their eyes all tribal people are targets.”

Foundation for Fundamental Rights attorney, Shahzad Akbar, said: “The Pakistani state has neglected drone victims for seven years and failed to perform its duty. Now the Peshawar High Court will enforce the fundamental right to life of its citizens and the Government cannot shy away from its responsibilities.”