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MPs warn of murder prosecution risk for drone strikes

Categories: Articles:Peacemaking | Published: 10/05/2016 | Views: 1076
An influential committee of Parliamentarians has today (10 May 2016) called on the British Government to “urgently” clarify its legal position on drone strikes, warning that its policy “may expose…Ministers to the risk of criminal prosecution for murder.” (Ekklesia)

A new report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) also states that the Defence Secretary, in evidence given to the committee, demonstrated a “misunderstanding of the legal frameworks that apply” to the use of armed drones outside  war zones.

The report, The Government’s policy on the use of drones for targeted killing, warns that the UK’s own policy of targeted killing – announced as a “new departure” by the Prime Minister last year – may “end up in the same place as the US policy”, despite ministers’ claims to the contrary.

The US covert drone programme, undertaken by secretive agencies such as the CIA, has proved controversial as it is carried out in countries where America is not at war.  The programme is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians, but is shrouded in secrecy to the point where the US Government has yet to officially  acknowledge its existence. It has been described as a “failed strategy” by General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama.

Last September, David Cameron announced that a “targeted strike” had been carried out in “a country where we are not involved in a war,” and admitted that this was “the first time in modern times” that this had happened.  The British Government has since sought to distance itself from any suggestion that it is following the US model of ‘targeted killing’, but it refused to answer repeated questions by MPs and the Committee as to whether it, like the US, was maintaining its own ‘Kill List’ of individuals set for targeting.  Read more with link to full report here

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