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

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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

Drone campaigners vow to pursue transparency despite losing Information Tribunal

FoI_logo1Press Statement

Anti-drone campaigners vowed to continue fighting for greater transparency on the use of armed drones despite losing an appeal against the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to share more information about the UK’s use of armed drones in Afghanistan.

Last week at the UN General Assembly two UN Special Rapporteurs urged the three countries that are currently using armed drones – the US, Israel and the UK – to be much more transparent about their use.  In sharp contrast the Information Tribunal has agreed the MoD can withhold basic details about UK drone strikes in Afghanistan. Read more

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