Families of children killed in drone strikes demand UN intervention to stop Pakistan attacks

February 23, 2012

Relatives of children killed and injured by CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have today filed a complaint against the USA with the United Nations. Legal action charity Reprieve, acting on behalf of more than a dozen Pakistani families who have lost loved ones in drone strikes, is asking the UN’s Human Rights Council to condemn the attacks as illegal human rights violations. The families, who between them have lost children, siblings and parents to the CIA’s covert programme, say that the strikes violate their rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – a treaty which has been signed and ratified by the US. Amongst the victims whose families are taking action are:

    Maezol Khan, whose eight-year-old son was killed when a missile fragment flew into the courtyard where he was sleeping Fahim Qureshi, an eighth-grade student who lost his eyesight and hearing in one ear in a strike which also killed one of his classmates and a number of his relatives Noor Khan, who is planning to sue the UK for its involvement in a drone strike on a loya jirga – a peaceful townhall meeting – which killed his father

The complaint follows a demand by the Islamabad-based human rights organisation, Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR), that the Pakistani government obtain a UN Security Council resolution to end the drone strikes, which have killed hundreds of civilians in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA). While President Obama recently claimed the drones are carrying out “pinpoint strike[s] on al Qaeda operatives,” the families are reporting heavy civilian casualties in North and South Waziristan, where the majority of strikes are taking place. Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith said: “In Pakistan, the CIA is creating a desolation and calling it peace. The illegal programme of drone strikes has murdered hundreds of civilians in Pakistan. The UN must put a stop to it before any more children are killed. Not only is it causing untold suffering to the people of North West Pakistan – it is also the most effective recruiting sergeant yet for the very ‘militants’ the US claims to be targeting.” Pakistani human rights lawyer, Shahzad Akbar of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, who represents the families said: “If President Obama really believes the drone strikes have ‘pinpoint’ accuracy, it has to be asked where the deaths of kids like Maezol Khan’s eight-year-old son fit into the CIA’s plan. If the US is not prepared to face up to the reality of the suffering the strikes are causing, then the UN must step in. The international community can no longer afford to ignore the human rights catastrophe which is taking place in North West Pakistan in the name of the ‘War on Terror’.” ENDSNotes to editors 1. The text of the complaint to the UN HRC and FFR’s letter calling for a Security Council resolution are available on Reprieve’s website.

2. For further information, please see reprieve.org.uk/investigations/drones or contact Donald Campbell or Katherine O’Shea in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0) 207 427 1082.3. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK; if you were forwarded this release, sign up to join our press mailing list.