The European Parliament on Thursday condemned the covert drone strikes in countries such as Pakistan that have claimed lives of hundreds of innocent civilians, a Reprieve press release stated.
On the morning of February 27, the majority (534 to 49) of the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favour of a resolution that demanded European Union Member States not to "perpetrate unlawful targeted killings or facilitate such killings by other states” and called on them to “oppose and ban practices of extra judicial targeted killings.”
Reprieve is a non government organisation working against the death penalty.
The resolution also stated that the "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."
It further said that "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."
The resolution added that “drone strike policies have been documented as causing considerable harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians in the countries concerned, including deep anxiety and psychological trauma, disruption of economic and social activities and reduced access to education among affected communities.”
Reprieve also lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court regarding the involvement of Nato member states in facilitating drone campaign.
Regarding the vote by the members of the parliament Kat Craig, the Reprieve Legal Director said that, “Today’s vote represents a triumph of conscience by MEPs, who have issued a clear call to national European governments to come clean on their complicity with the CIA’s illegal drones programme, and bring it to an immediate halt."
The legal director further added that "this should be a wake-up call to countries like the UK and Germany; they need to clean up their act not only by ensuring that they stop cooperating with extrajudicial killings, but also by pressuring the US for greater transparency and accountability.”
Delighted by the vote, anti-drone activist from Pakistan and one of the victims of the drone strikes Karim Khan said that, “As I prepare to return home, I will take with me this heartening news – that Europe is listening to those who have been harmed by America’s illegal drone war. Not just innocents like my brother and son, but all those who are terrorised daily by the drones circling overhead."
Khan's brother and son were killed in a drone strike in Waziristan in 2009.
"Drone strikes are not the answer. 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,” Khan stated, speaking against the aerial attacks.
MEP and chair of the Parliament's sub-committee on human rights Barbara Lochbihler said that, "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. 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."
She also said that "the EU needs to address the legal, ethical and security challenges posed by the increasing use of drones, including the urgent need to secure complete transparency and accountability. The resolution also stresses that EU member states should strictly refrain from participating in or facilitating extrajudicial targeted killings, for instance by sharing relevant information with countries such as the US."