Parliamentary Human Rights Committee release report into drones and targeted killing

JHRC-report
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The Joint Human Rights Committee have today released their report into the use of armed drones for targeted killing.  While the drone strike that targeted and killed 21-year-old British citizen Reyaad Khan last August was in many ways the trigger for the inquiry, the Committee chose to focus on the wider legal issues around the policy of targeted killing itself, rather than that specific operation.

In an initial assessment of the report there are three points to be made:

1. Important recommendations

While Drone Wars UK would not agree with some of the general conclusions reached, the Committee makes strong and important calls on the Government to clarify its often confusing and apparently contradictory position on legal issues related to the use of armed drones outside conventional armed conflicts.  In particular it urges the government to clarify: Read more

US drone operations centre to open in the UK?

LakenheathIn December 2015 the US announced plans to vastly expand its drone programme including increasing the number of drones to be purchased, doubling the number of drone operators and opening new drone bases.

According to a report in the LA Times, as part of these plans Pentagon officials are considering putting a drone operations centre at a USAF base in the UK – at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk. Read more

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

Book review. Drones: the delusion of seeing what we want to see

 books-web

  • We kill because we can: From soldiering to assassination in the drone age, Laurie Calhoun, Zed Books, 2015.
  • Kill Chain: Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins, Andrew Cockburn, Verso, 2015.
  • Unmanned: Drones, Data, and the Illusion of Perfect Warfare, William M. Arkin, Little, Brown and Co., 2015.

We Kill Because We Can is a 300-page tirade on drones from cultural critic Laurie Calhoun.  Focusing on the use of drones for targeted killing, each chapter is more or less a self-contained polemical essay, with titles such as ‘Strike First, Suppress Questions Later’ and ‘The New Banality of Killing’.  I can’t disagree at all with Calhoun’s overall argument that “both the practise of and propensity towards institutional killing has been transformed by this new technology.”  However the tone of seething rage did begin to grate after a while.  Perhaps best kept as a resource to be dipped into if your anger about drone warfare needs re-kindling. Read more

Dannatt defends drones but ignores the real issues

General the Lord Dannatt defends use of armed drones
General the Lord Dannatt’s essay defends use of armed drones

Amidst its reporting of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, The Telegraph published an essay on Saturday by Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British army.  In ‘Drone attacks are a vital part of modern warfare’ Dannatt addresses those who feel, as he put it, “a nagging sense of unease” about the drone targeted killing of Mohammed Emwazi aka ‘Jihadi John’.

The essay, using the drone strike on Emwazi as an example, attempts to justify in a broad way the use of armed drones in general as well as their use for targeted killing beyond the battlefield. Read more

Stop British Drone Targeted Killing

Reposted from Drone Campaign Network

dcn-logoThe Drone Campaign Network is appalled by the British government using its armed drones to undertake the targeted killing of British citizen Reyaad Khan in Syria.  Many legal scholars and international law experts are arguing that this targeted killing goes beyond what the US is doing in Pakistan and elsewhere and that the scant legal argument put forward so far by the UK government raises many questions. See some of the arguments here: Read more