An Islamabad-based legal charity has today launched legal action against the Pakistani Government in Peshawar's High Court on behalf of the victims of a deadly CIA drone strike in March 2012.
The Foundation for Fundamental Rights has filed two separate constitutional petitions challenging the Government of Pakistan's failure to protect its citizens from US drone attacks. Both relate to a March 17 2012 strike on a North Waziristan jirga which killed 50 people. The first petition is filed by Noor Khan over the death of his father; the second by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights on behalf of eight local families who lost family members in the attack.
The Petitioners assert that at least 3000 people have been killed in over 320 CIA drone strikes in FATA, mostly in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA). Citing the constitutional duty of a government to protect its citizens, the petitions raise the possibility of a secret US-Pakistani agreement allowing drone killings and insists that any such agreement would be illegal and unconstitutional.
The Petitioners have asked the court to order Pakistan's federal government to strengthen its protection of its citizens within sovereign territory by:
- raising the drones issue before the United Nations Security Council, the International Court of Justice and the United Nations Human Rights Council
- initiating criminal proceedings against those involved, on either the Pakistani or American side
- setting up an independent commission to investigate the true extent of Pakistani civilian deaths in US drone attacks
This will be first case filed by victims of drone strikes against the government of Pakistan; previous FFR cases have pursued criminal charges against the CIA in district courts in Islamabad.
Barrister Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for the victims and director of the FFR, said: “The Pakistani government has failed people in FATA in giving them basic facilities for decades and now they are party to assassination by a foreign state. It is about time that our corrupt rulers stood up for their people, taking the matter before international forums to stop the CIA's illegal attacks upon Pakistan.”
Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve UK, who is visiting Peshawar to meet with drone victims and elders from Waziristan said: “The first role of any government must be to protect its own citizens from harm, when they are innocent of any crime. The first role of any lawyer must be to hold his government to this task, particularly when defenceless civilians are being killed. If my child were killed by a Predator drone in the English countryside, I would expect there to be very serious and immediate consequences. A Pakistani child should enjoy the same protection.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office firstname.lastname@example.org +44(0)20 7427 1099
2. Noor Khan’s father, Malik Daud Khan, was a respected member of the local community and head of the North Waziristan Loya Jirga, a peaceful council of local elders. On 17 March, 2011, while Malik Daud Khan was attending and chairing a Jirga meeting to settle a dispute relating to a local chromite mine, a US drone fired missiles at the Jirga, killing around 50 innocent people, including Malik Daud Khan, five members of the Khasadar (local police) force.
3. Foundation for Fundamental Rights is a legal charity, working towards the advancement, protection and enforcement of fundamental human rights given to the citizens of Pakistan and guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan.
FFR works along with British legal charity Reprieve representing drone victims. Reprieve recently filed a similar petition in London seeking an end to the involvement of the British secret services in drone strikes in Pakistan. Reprieve and FFR have also filed a represetation before the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of dozens of civilian victims from Waziristan.
For any further information please contact: Saad Sultan email: email@example.com Mobile:0321 5144777
4. 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.’