‘CIA drones in Pakistan illegal, says UN.’

March 15, 2013

Image of a drone flying

Ben Emmerson QC, the UN Special Rapporteur for Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, has returned from a three day trip to Pakistan.

In a statement released today, Emmerson said that the Pakistani government had made it clear to him that they consider the CIA drone programme to be “counter-productive, contrary to international law, a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, [and that] they should cease immediately”.

While in Pakistan, Emmerson met with victims of drone strikes as well as government officials. In his statement today the Special Rapporteur emphasised the devastating effect of drones on the everyday life of entire communities in the North West of Pakistan, where the unmanned missiles constantly hover overhead. The Bureau for Investigative Journalism estimates that up to 3,577 people have been killed in drone strikes.

Commenting, Reprieve’s Legal Director Kat Craig said:  “The UN’s statement today is an unequivocal warning that the CIA drones programme is not only completely unwanted by the Pakistani government but is irrefutably illegal. More worryingly, it is shredding apart the fabric of life in Pakistan, terrorising entire communities. The Special Rapporteur’s job is to balance the need for counter-terrorism with the need to protect basic human rights – what he has revealed today is that this balance is far, far from being achieved. US drone strikes in Pakistan must stop and the international community must turn its attention to the plight of the most vulnerable people whose lives are being devastated by these killing machines.”


Notes to editors:

1. For more information please contact Clemency Wells in Reprieve’s Press Office, on: +44 (0) 207 553 8161 / clemency.wells@reprieve.org.uk

2. For further information about Reprieve’s work on drones, please see here

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.