European Parliament Votes 534-49 to Condemn ‘Illegal’ US Drone Strikes
European lawmakers voted overwhelmingly last week to condemn US unmanned aerial drone strikes as violations of international law and of the sovereignty of targeted nations.
The European Parliament voted 534-49 to approve a resolution condemning covert US drone strikes that have killed at least hundreds of innocent civilians in nations including Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia.
The resolution, which demands EU members states “do not perpetuate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states,” also calls on EU nations to “oppose and ban practices of extrajudicial targeted killings.”
“Drone strikes by a State on the territory of another State without the consent of the latter constitute a violation of international law and of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of that country,” the resolution states.
“Thousands of civilians have reportedly been killed or seriously injured by drone strikes [but] these figures are difficult to estimate, owing to lack of transparency and obstacles to effective investigation.”
It continues: “Drone strike policies have been documented as causing considerable harm to the daily lives of ordinary citizens in the countries concerned, including deep anxiety and psychological trauma, disruption of economic and social activities and reduced access to education among affected communities.”
Barbara Lochbihler, Green MEP and chairwoman of the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, said the resolution was a “strong rebuke” to US drone strikes.
“The European Parliament has today raised serious concerns with the use of military drones and the deaths of thousands of civilians resulting from drone strikes,” said Lochbihler. “MEPs have delivered a strong rebuke to the practice of targeted aerial killings outside a declared war zone, as well as the use of armed drones in war situations outside of the international legal framework.”
Pakistani anti-drone activist and drone strike victim Karim Khan, who was recently kidnapped and tortured by Pakistani security forces just days before he was scheduled to testify before the European Parliament, expressed his satisfaction with the lawmakers for passing the resolution.
“Europe is listening to those who have been harmed by America’s illegal drone war,” Khan, who lost his son and a brother, both civilians, to a 2009 US drone strike in Waziristan, told the Pakistani daily Express Tribune.
“Drone strikes are not the answer,” continued Khan. “Today, Europe has taken a first step to bringing a stop to these illegal, unaccountable killings; I hope that national governments will follow suit, so that one day, I may finally get justice.”
The Obama administration has defended its use of drones, which it says are “necessary and just” and an invaluable weapon in the war against terrorism. In Obama’s widened war, the use of drones has increased dramatically over Bush administration levels. In 2012, Obama falsely claimed that “drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties,” and John Brennan, his CIA director, also falsely claimed that there had been no civilians killed by drones in the past year. The London-based Bureau for Investigative Journalism counted at least 45 civilians killed by drones in Pakistan alone during the period in question.
President Obama has also come under fire for the highly controversial practice of counting all military-age males in a air strike zone as ‘militants,’ whether they really are or not.
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