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September 20, 2011

HR ministry to take up drone attacks issue with UN rapporteur


September 20, 2011

To build diplomatic pressure against drone attacks on Pakistan, the Federal Ministry of Human Rights has decided to take up the issue before UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.
The decision was shared with the media by Adviser to Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar in a press briefing here on Monday. He said that the plan of having official communication with the United Nations in this regard is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Rights and is yet to be discussed with other stakeholders.
The government has condemned these attacks at every level. The parliamentarians already have a common stance over this issue. It is only the matter of formulating plan of action to take up the issue at the level of United Nations, he said while talking to media persons. The adviser described drone strikes as targeted killings and urged that the matter may be taken up with the US at the appropriate level.
Khokhar, who has also been a student of International Law, said that the first drone attack was conducted by the United States on Jordan in 2005 to kill terrorism suspect Al Harsi. At that time, the UN Special Rapporteur took notice of the incident and it was conveyed to the United States government that it has violated the international law by committing extra judicial killings.
It must be noticed here that the United States has conducted 270 such strikes against Pakistan and thousands of people have lost their lives in these attacks. There is no record of the number of people that have been killed in these attacks, he said.
He said that interestingly, up till now in Pakistan, the debate has only circled around the loss of innocent lives (collateral damage) and not around the specific legalities of these strikes in the light of International Humanitarian Law (Law of War) and how these strikes are being viewed by eminent jurists around the world.
Khokar said that apart from being in violation of

Pakistan s territorial sovereignty, there is a growing consensus among the international law experts that these strikes can be aptly described as targeted killings or extra judicial killings primarily because the targets are being taken out without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.
This view is gaining ground in the international legal fraternity and is supported by various international treaties as well as the United States own constitution. The advisor mentioned that one does not have to be a legal expert to see that there is a blatant disregard of international law, customary law, treaties and conventions by the American administration.
He said that it must be stressed upon partners in the war on terror that these extra judicial killings must be stopped forthwith as these are entirely counterproductive. The moral and legal obligations are being flouted by the US administration. America and its allies cannot preach respect for Human Rights when their own record is questionable ranging from disrespecting the environmental treaties to torturing detainees and now extra judicial killings.
He further requested that after every such strike the matter must be reported to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. Since the office of Special Rapporteur already holds the view that these strikes may amount to extra-judicial killings and continues to take note of these strikes, Pakistan s official communication to it in this regard might prove to be highly productive.

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