The high level of secrecy the British government has constructed around its armed drones prevents outsiders from finding out key information and assessing the morality and legality, or otherwise, of its actions.
To ensure transparency and accountability, it is vital that Parliament can scrutinise government policy and behaviour. Pressure from within an MP’s constituency can be a key factor in influencing their views and making them act.
One way to engage with an MP on armed drones is to write a letter or email. If you contact your MP, do ask her or him to raise the issue with the relevant Minister. By convention, a letter forwarded by an MP to a Minister must receive a Ministerial reply.
If you are unsure who your MP is, you can find out here
Please write to your MP using the draft letter below which urges transparency around the deployment of the UK’s armed drones. Feel free to edit this letter and to use your own words. Do let us know if you receive a response. If you would like to follow up by meeting with your MP on this issue we would be happy to assist.
Current Letter Writing Campaign
Where are British drones operating?
We are currently asking supporters to write to their MPs regarding the fact that while the UK has admitted it is using Reaper drones for operations outside of missions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, they will not say where these drone operations are taking place. Without proper oversight and accountability, secret deployments such as this potentially draw us down the rabbit hole of unaccountable military action which could quickly spiral out of control. The government must reveal where British Reaper drone sorties are taking place, the purpose of these operations, and whether any strikes have occurred. For more details see our blog post here.
Please use the draft letter below to contact your MP. Please do let us have a copy of any response you receive.
[Name of your MP]
House of Commons,
London SW1A 0AA
Dear [Name of Your MP]
In May 2020, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed in response to a Freedom of Information request that British Reaper drones had been used for missions outside of Coalition operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, the MoD is refusing to say both where these drone operations are taking place, and what the purpose of the missions are.
I am writing to you as I am very concerned that the lack of transparency here means there is little to no public and parliamentary accountability over these UK military operations. There are a number of concerns about the growing use of remotely-controlled armed drones, including that they lower the threshold for the use of force, transfer the risk of armed combat from soldiers to civilians and are expanding the use of so-called targeted killing.
As one of the first users of these systems the UK needs to recognise it has a responsibility to take a lead regarding transparency. While it may be necessary to keep some information secret, I do not believe it is appropriate, or legitimate, to refuse all details of the deployment of the UK’s armed drones.
I would be grateful if you would pass my letter on to the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, asking him to respond and set out where British Reaper drone missions outside of Operations Shader are taking place, and to what purpose.
(insert your name and contact details here)