A recent report [text, PDF] made public by the UN Friday indicates that the US is under-reporting the number of civilian deaths resulting from anti-terrorism drone strikes [JURIST backgrounder]. In his investigation, UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson [official website] discovered 33 drone attacks that have resulted in approximately 450 civilian deaths in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. While more information must be obtained to confirm these figures, the UN report claims a lack of transparency on the part of US officials to be the biggest obstacle in obtaining an accurate account of civilian casualties. The report stated that the lack of transparency "creates an accountability vacuum and affects the ability of victims to seek redress." The US provides very little public information about the attacks, especially in Pakistan and Yemen where the CIA is in charge of them. The report is to be presented to the UN General Assembly on October 25.
This report has been made available to the public just several days after police in Afghanistan reported [JURIST, report] the death of five civilians from a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] counter-terrorism drone strike headed by the US. The use of drones has become an increasingly controversial topic concerning the War on Terror [JURIST backgrounder]. In May the chief justice of the high court of Peshawar ruled [JURIST report] that US drone strikes in the country are illegal.