Kareem is a Pakistani journalist and anti-drones activist. His teenage son and brother were killed in a CIA drone strike on 31 December 2009.
Assisted by Reprieve and our Pakistani partner the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, Kareem is taking legal action in Pakistan to force the authorities to investigate the murder of his relatives.
On 7 April 2015, the Islamabad High Court ordered Pakistani police to open a criminal case against a former CIA Islamabad Station Chief and an ex-CIA lawyer for their involvement in the deaths of Kareem’s son and brother.
For Kareem, the judge’s order represents new hope that victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan will get justice for the wrongs being done to them. But the Pakistani authorities have refused to accept the court’s order and plan to appeal to Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Today’s order is a victory for all those innocent civilians that have been killed in U.S.-led drone strikes in Pakistan. I sincerely hope that authorities now will do their job and proceed against the culprits.
In May 2014, a Pakistani court ordered the police to open a criminal investigation into the CIA’s involvement in the killing of Kareem’s family.
“Today’s order is a victory for all those innocent civilians that have been killed in US-led drone strikes in Pakistan. I also feel heartened that people like me in Waziristan might now also be able to get justice for the wrongs being done to them. I sincerely hope that the authorities now do their job and investigate the culprits.”
On 5th February 2014, just days before he was due to speak to the European Parliament, Kareem was abducted from his home in the middle of the night by up to 20 men, some of whom were wearing police uniforms. He was detained for nine days in an undisclosed location, where he was beaten and interrogated about his work advocating for drone strike victims. Kareem’s ordeal ended on 14th February 2014 when he was thrown blindfolded from a vehicle and told not to speak to the media.
“What happened to Kareem Khan is nothing new in Pakistan. We are living in a state of lawlessness where the executive enjoys impunity. The lesson learned though this experience is that we must always raise our voices. We need to take this stand for each and every person who disappears. It is the only way to force those in power to listen.”
Shahzad Akbar, Reprieve Fellow and Director, Foundation for Fundamental Rights
Despite his ordeal, Kareem travelled to Europe shortly after his release, where he spoke at briefings before three European parliaments and met with government officials in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
Shortly after Kareem’s visit to Europe, members of the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution to ban the practice and to stop facilitating those who carry them out.
“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.”