Fallon to face questions on drone targeted killing – but will there be answers?

Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon will face questions from the Human Rights Select Committee on Wednesday (16 Dec) over the targeted killing of two British men in a UK drone strike.  21-year old Reyaad Khan from Cardiff was killed in the strike in Syria on 21 August 2015 alongside 26-year old Ruhul Amin from Aberdeen and an unknown third man.

As the Prime Minster acknowledged in his statement to the House of Commons,the air strike was a significant departure from previous military operations: Read more

PR Trumps Transparency Part II: Government response to Select Committee report on drones

responseThe Government Response to the Defence Select Committee Report on ‘Remotely Piloted Air Systems’ (drones to the rest of us) was published on 29 July. As we wrote when the Committee’s report was originally published in March, there is a gaping hole in the document where actual details of UK drone operation in Afghanistan – and an analysis of their impact on the ground – should be. Without this crucial information it is, in our opinion, impossible to undertake any proper assessment of “the current and future use” of drones, as the Committee claims it has done.

Despite this obvious omission from its investigation – or perhaps because of it – the Defence Select Committee was able to be enthusiastic about the use of drones, calling them “a key military capability for the future.”  The report did however make some observations and recommendations, to which the Government has now responded. Read more

Defence Select Committee issues report on drones: PR trumps transparency

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Click to download

Three years ago today (25 March) four Afghan civilians were killed and two seriously injured in a British drone strike in the Now Zad district of Helmand province. According to the MoD the strike, which also killed two men believed to be combatants, was investigated by ISAF who found that the strike had been “in accordance with extant procedures and rules of engagement.”  Words of regret were issued, the case closed and British and US drone operations in Afghanistan continued unabated.

Seemingly by coincidence, the Defence Select Committee chose the third anniversary of this tragic event to release the report of its inquiry into the use of ‘Remotely Piloted Air Systems’.  Not only is the anniversary itself ignored, so too is how UK drone strikes are actually impacting on the ground in Afghanistan. The fact that casualty figures from UK drone strikes in Afghanistan are not made public is not even mentioned, never mind challenged. Just as the four Afghan civilians killed in that British drone strike three years ago remain nameless, so to do all victims of UK drone strikes in Afghanistan Read more

British drone strikes in Afghanistan using borrowed US drones revealed

reaper-at-nightupdated below

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that British RAF pilots have borrowed USAF Reaper drones more than 250 times in Afghanistan, launching weapons on at least 39 occasions. However the numbers of strikes by RAF pilots using US Reapers drones is likely to be higher as the MoD  are keeping secret the number of weapons launches by RAF pilots when they have been officially embedded with the USAF. Read more

Parliamentary Committee urges Government to ensure controls on drone exports are not weakened

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UK Foreign Secretary William Hague

The UK Parliamentary Committee that oversees arms exports has today published its latest annual report. While the press have rightly focused on the shocking amount of arms exported to human rights abusers, the growing issue of drone proliferation also gets deserved scrutiny in the report.

Last October Drone Wars UK made a submission to the Committee drawing their attention to two specific issues in relation to the proliferation of drones. As the report states (Para 333) “Drone Wars UK raised concerns that the Read more

UK Defence Select Committee announces remit of inquiry into use of drones

Last November we reported that  the UK Defence Select Committee was considering an inquiry into the growing use of drones as part of a wider inquiry leading up to the Strategic Defence Review.  Today, the Committee has announced further details in a press release (below).  Drone Wars UK early submission to the inquiry is available here.  More on this soon no doubt. Read more