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Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, June 30, 2011. - File Photo by AP.

GENEVA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navanethem Pillay, in her opening statement to the 20th session of the HRC, while referring to her recent visit to Pakistan, said that she was impressed by “the energy and capacity” available to strengthen human rights and democracy in Pakistan.

The High Commissioner also expressed serious concern over the continuing use of armed drones for targeted attacks, in particular because it was unclear that all persons targeted were combatants or directly participating in hostilities.

The High Commissioner urged states to conduct investigation that were transparent, credible and independent and provide victims with effective remedies.

In his statements, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan, Ambassador Zamir Akram, thanked the High Commissioner for her words of encouragement in commending the efforts made by the Government of Pakistan to strengthen human rights.

He also referred to the fact that the former Special Reporter on Extraordinary, Summary or Arbitrary executions Philip Alston, as well as his successor Christof Heyns, had raised serious concerns regarding the use of drones.

The Permanent Representative of Pakistan reiterated the position of the Government of Pakistan that drone strikes were contrary to international law and a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, and were counter-productive.

He called upon the international community to pay heed to the concerns expressed by the High Commissioner and the Special Procedures with regard to drone attacks.

The prominent human rights organisation, Amnesty International, in its statement, also said that the drone attacks “disregard human rights law” and that “the carrying out of killings .... represents a fundamental challenge to the whole international system for the protection of human rights.”

The American Civil Liberty Union, in its statement, called for “increased transparency and accountability regarding the use of armed drones for targeted killing”, and expressed concerns that “US drone killings have not complied with international law requirements mandating the protection of civilians.”