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Pakistan court orders arrest of former CIA official over drone strike

[JURIST] The Islamabad High Court on Thursday ordered the arrest of former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] official Jonathan Banks for his involvement in a 2009 drone strike that killed civilians. Kareem Khan, whose brother and son were killed in the drone strike in Waziristan, had petitioned the court [Al Jazeera report] to charge Banks with murder. Banks left Pakistan in 2010 after his identity was revealed and is unlikely to return to Pakistan to face charges. Nevertheless, activists such as the Foundation for Fundamental Rights [Facebook page], which represented Khan, welcomed the ruling and expressed hope that it would set a precedent for additional charges to be brought against US officials.

Drone use [JURIST backgrounder] has been a controversial issue both in terms of small domestic drones and larger drones being used abroad by the US military. In March the UN General Assembly called upon nations to ensure military drones are used in accordance with international law [JURIST report]. In October UN experts urged the international community to have greater accountability [JURIST report] and transparency when it comes to the use of drones. A week earlier the UN released a report showing that the US had killed more people [JURIST report] using drone strikes than it publicly claimed to have killed. A month earlier the FBI released a report [JURIST report] detailing its plans for the use of unmanned drones in future missions. In August the UN stated that if the US is to use drones they must comply [JURIST report] with international law.

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