UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson [official profile] announced [press release] Thursday that the government of Pakistan considers US drone strikes to be "counter-productive, contrary to international law, and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity." The statement comes at the conclusion of Emmerson's three-day visit to Pakistan in connection with his ongoing inquiry [JURIST report] regarding the legality of the use of drone strikes. According to statistics compiled by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at least 400 civilians have been killed as a result of drone strikes, and that at least 200 of those individuals were probable non-combatants. Emmerson concluded:
The Pashtun tribes of the [Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)] area have suffered enormously under the drone campaign. These proud and independent people have been self-governing for generations, and have a rich tribal history that has been too little understood in the West. Their tribal structures have been broken down by the military campaign in FATA and by the use of drones in particular. It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other States.After asking the US to allow an independent investigation [JURIST report] of its use of targeted killings last year, Emmerson stated that there is still no consensus among the international community as to the legality of the conduct.
The use of drone strikes by the US both internationally and within its own territory has come under scrutiny in recent months. Earlier this week, JURIST Guest Columnist Anthony D'Amato of the Northwestern University School of Law criticized [JURIST comment] the US government for ignoring fundamental habeas corpus rights to conduct drone strikes on American soil. In January, Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Minister Hina Rabbani Khar condemned US drone attacks [JURIST report] as a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and international law. In December, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss [JURIST report] a lawsuit challenging the US government's targeted killing of three US citizens in drone strikes. In July Pakistan's Ambassador to the US called upon the US to end the practice [JURIST report] of using drone strikes in targeted killings. That same month US lawmakers expressed concern [JURIST report] over the use of drone strikes. JURIST Guest Columnist Samar Warsi of the Muslim Civil Liberties Union recently argued that the Obama administration's drone policy sets a dangerous precedent [JURIST comment] and undermines national security.