Human rights group Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are calling for United States President and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama, to be put on trial for the killing of innocent people abroad. President Obama is responsible for the unlawful drone killings in Pakistan and Yemen which, according to Amnesty International are war crimes or extrajudicial executions. In a report by Amnesty International out last week, ‘Will I be next?’, it reveals new evidence the U.S. has killed people who “posed no apparent threat to life.” It has been reported another U.S. drone strike killed three in Pakistan yesterday.
The Libertarian Party has come out against the killing of innocent people by the Obama administration on many occasions calling them acts of terrorism. In August, 2013 the chair of the Libertarian Party, Geoffrey J. Neale said, “Yemenis perceive the U.S. drones strikes, which are killing peaceful citizens, to be acts of terrorism. At least in some respects, they are. ‘Terrorism’ refers to acts of violence that are intended to instill fear and that deliberately target or disregard the safety of civilians. While instilling fear among the Yemeni population at large may not be President Obama’s goal, it is well known that drone strikes terrify civilians. His drone war in Yemen is blatant disregard for human life.”
“Instead of hiding the truth, the U.S. must take responsibility,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA (AI). “It should be investigating unlawful killings, coming clean about who’s being killed, and holding those responsible to account.”
Most drone strikes from the United States have occurred in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan where AI conducted research into a sampling of nine drone strikes. Among them is the October 2012 killing of 68-year old grandmother Mamana Bibi. She was killed in a double strike, apparently by a Hellfire missile, as she picked vegetables in the family’s fields and while surrounded by a handful of her grandchildren.
“We cannot find any justification for these killings,” said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher. “There are genuine threats to the U.S. and its allies in the region, and drone strikes may be lawful in some circumstances. But it is hard to believe that a group of laborers, or a grandmother surrounded by her grandchildren, were endangering anyone at all, let alone posing an imminent threat to the United States.”
Amnesty International also documented cases of so-called “rescuer attacks” in which those who ran to the aid of the victims of an initial drone strike were themselves targeted in a follow-on attack. In a July 2012 case, 18 laborers, including 14-year-old Saleh Khan, were killed in multiple strikes on an impoverished village close to the border with Afghanistan as they were about to enjoy an evening meal at the end of a long day of work. Witnesses described a macabre scene of body parts and blood, panic and terror, as U.S. drones continued to hover overhead.
In addition to the threat of U.S. drone strikes, people in North Waziristan are frequently caught between attacks by armed groups and Pakistan’s armed forces. Al-Qa’ida-linked groups have killed dozens of local villagers they accused of being spies for U.S. drone strikes.
People injured – from drone strikes, attacks by armed groups or Pakistan armed forces – have died from their wounds because hospitals were inaccessible or local medical help was inadequate.
Survivors of drone strikes and families of the victims have little or no chance of securing justice. U.S. authorities have failed to acknowledge responsibility for specific strikes, let alone establish a mechanism for investigating killings and providing redress where appropriate.
In May 2013, President Obama promised to increase transparency about drone strikes. But the Administration has yet to officially disclose any new information about drone policy, the legal framework or particular strikes.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are jointly calling on the U.S. Congress to fully investigate the cases the two organizations have documented and other potentially unlawful deaths, and to disclose any evidence of human rights violations to the public.
Amnesty International’s Key Recommendations to the U.S. Government:
President Obama should disclose the facts and legal basis for the killings documented in this report. He should immediately commit to ensuring independent and impartial investigations into these killings and any other cases where there is reasonable ground to believe that drone strikes resulted in unlawful killings.