Information Tribunal – Day Two brief update

L-R, Caroline Parkes, (Drones APPG) Chris Cole and Mary Dobbing (Drone Wars UK) and Sam Jacobs (Doughty Street Chambers)
L-R, Caroline Parkes, (Drones APPG) Chris Cole and Mary Dobbing (Drone Wars UK) and Sam Jacobs (Doughty Street Chambers)

The second day of our Information Tribunal focused on the legal submissions by ourselves represented by  Sam Jacobs, the Ministry of Defence represented by Charles Bourne, and the Information Commissioner represented by Robin Hopkins.  This is just a brief update – we will obviously say more when the Tribunal’s decision is released  – hopefully within two weeks.

The Information Commission had previously upheld the MoD’s refusal to disclose the information that we requested under the Section 26 exception of the Freedom of Information Act (‘prejudice to the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces’) and Section 27 (‘prejudice to relations with another State’).  In this Tribunal we are seeking to overturn Read more

Drone Wars UK to challenge UK drone secrecy in court

gavelA two-day Information Tribunal will take place in central London on 23 and 24 September examining  the refusal of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide Drone Wars UK Co-ordinator, Chris Cole, with information about the UK’s use of Reaper drones in Afghanistan.

A UK Reaper drone operator with “approximately 1,000 hours of Reaper experience supporting UK and Coalition activities in Afghanistan” will give evidence on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.  Chris Cole is also being called to give evidence and Tom Watson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones has also submitted a Witness Statement to the Tribunal. Read more

UK MoD releases two presentations on British drones to Drone Wars UK

We have received today two presentations, delivered by senior military officers at the Unmanned Aerial Systems UK Conference in  June 2012, released in response to our Freedom of Information request.  Regular readers may remember that this conference, due to be held in the centre of Bath, was moved within secure military premises due to planned protests.

The first presentation, ‘Information Dominance and UK Approach to Unmanned Systems’, was given by Air Vice-Marshal Mark Green, Director Joint Air Capability.  See here for the full text which can be read in conjunction with the slides – click image right. Read more

UN report: civilian casualties from drone strikes in Afghanistan Jan – Jun 2013

unamaIt is very rare to get any details of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan and even rarer to have information about civilian casualties from drone strikes in Afghanistan.  Today the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its mid-year report  Afghanistan: Protection of civilians in armed conflict (pdf).   The report details a 23% increase in civilian casualties over the same period last year.   UNAMA  attributes  74% of civilian deaths and injuries to Anti-Government Elements, 9% to Pro-Government Forces, 12% to ground engagements between Pro-Government Forces and Anti-Government Elements, with the remaining 4% unattributed. Read more