US urged to apologise for civilians killed by drones

April 25, 2015

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On Thursday, President Obama acknowledged for the first time that the US had inadvertently killed an American citizen, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, in January this year.  — Reuters/file
On Thursday, President Obama acknowledged for the first time that the US had inadvertently killed an American citizen, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, in January this year. — Reuters/file

WASHINGTON: Two influential rights groups — Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union — urged the United States on Friday to be more transparent about its drone strikes.

In a statement issued in Washington, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights programme, urged US President Barack Obama to apologise for all civilians killed in drone attacks.

On Thursday, President Obama acknowledged for the first time that the US had inadvertently killed an American citizen, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, in January this year.

Read: Obama apologises for hostage deaths in Pak-Afghan border strike

The president’s “demonstration of transparency is a welcome step, but apology and redress should be available for all civilians killed in US drone strikes, not just US citizens and Europeans,” said Ms Shah.

“The US government could be just as transparent about the hundreds of other drone strikes it has conducted in Pakistan and Yemen.”

The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday’s disclosures “raise troubling questions” about the reliability of the intelligence that the government was relying on to justify drone strikes.

“In each of the operations acknowledged on Thursday, the US quite literally didn’t know who it was killing.”

The deaths of these and other civilians “make clear that there is a significant gap between the relatively stringent standards the government says it’s using and the standards that are actually being used”, said Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU’s deputy legal director.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015

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