New FoI figures on UK air and drone strikes in Iraq and Syria

New figures released to Drone Wars UK in response to Freedom of Information requests shows a dramatic increase in the number of RAF operations in Syria in the first six months of 2017.  According to the figures, UK armed air missions in Syria rose by 480% in the first half of 2017 compared with the previous six months.

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Information tribunal dismisses Drone Wars appeal over British drone secrecy

An information tribunal has upheld the MoD’s decision to refuse to release the number of British armed drones deployed against ISIS and their location, despite such information being released by the UK about its ‘manned’ aircraft.

In the just released open judgement (a closed judgement has also been produced but will not been made available to us), the tribunal accepted that there was clear public interest in the information Drone Wars sought as both parliament and the public could then ascertain if Read more

UK armed drone deployment: brief report from Information Tribunal

Tribunal in closed session

Our appeal against the Ministry of Defence’s decision not to release the number of UK Reapers engaged in operations against ISIS, nor the location of all UK Reapers was heard before an Information Tribunal yesterday (11 July). Despite such details being regularly released for ‘manned’ aircraft engaged in such operations – and as we demonstrated in court – many other operations including Operation Herrick (Afghanistan), Operation Ellamy (Libya) and even Operation Desert Fox (Iraq), the MoD insisted in court there were “appropriate reasons”, which could not be revealed in open court, why deployment details of armed drones could not be released. Group Captain Mark Flewin, attached to Permanent Joint Headquarter (PJHQ) and responsible for managing information operations in support of Operation Shader gave evidence for the MoD in open session but repeated stated he could not answer some of our questions in open session.  His redacted statement is below.  GC Flewin stated in open session: Read more

Where are Britain’s armed drones? And why it matters we are not allowed to know

under-cover-reaper2
In the dark: RAF Reaper drones

At the first stage of what is likely to be a lengthy appeals process, the Information Commissioner has upheld the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to reveal to Drone Wars UK the number of Britain’s armed drones currently deployed.

Despite the fact that the MoD are happy to give such details about other surveillance and attack aircraft taking part in operations against ISIS, the MoD insists that the number of drones deployed nor their location can be released for reasons of operational security. Read more

Drone Wars UK refused permission for full hearing on drones FoI request before Upper Tribunal

“The legality of the use of armed drones is one of the most important and pressing issues in modern international relations and public international law.”   Judge Nicolas Wikeley

 

upper tribunalVery disappointingly we have been refused permission for a full hearing before the Upper Tribunal of our appeal to overturn the refusal of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to answer our FoI requests on the use of armed drones in Afghanistan. (Full decision here – pdf).

As regular readers will know in 2012 we requested information about the location of UK drone strikes in Afghanistan by province and the breakdown of strikes undertaken under daily tasking orders (i.e. pre-planned) and those launched under dynamic targeting procedures (i.e. ‘on the fly’). This information was refused by the MoD and we have been appealing the decision since. Read more

UK Drone FoI appeal set to reach Upper Tribunal

upper tribunalLater this month Drone Wars appeal against the MoD’s refusal to answer two FoI requests about the use of UK drones in Afghanistan reaches the Upper Tribunal, the highest level of the FoI process in the UK. The first hearing, which will take place on July 21, is to hear oral arguments on whether the appeal should be allowed to proceed.

The appeal concerns two requests for information submitted in January and May 2012 in which we ask (in summary) Read more