The victims of deadly drone strikes in Pakistan are today questioning the British government's apparent failure to regulate companies seeking to profit from the CIA's illegal targeted killing programme.
Lawyers for Malik Jalal, a tribal elder in North Waziristan, are asking the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to impose export controls on British-based corporations selling drone parts to the CIA.
Malik Jalal's home of Manzer Kel, North Waziristan, has suffered repeated strikes by US drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ("UAVs")) believed to be operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of its targeted killing programme which has operated covertly in Pakistan since 2004. In one such strike, on Datta Khel on 17 March 2011, almost 50 people were killed at a tribal gathering. Some 18 members of Malik Jalal's tribe have been killed and many more injured in this and other strikes, and his community lives in constant fear.
In today's letter before action, Malik Jalal reports that a number of British companies are exporting parts for CIA UAVs and/or providing technology or technical assistance to the CIA's UAV programme. The letter asks the Department of Innovation Business and Skills ("BIS") to fulfil its legal obligation to restrict or prevent those exports for unlawful use.
The letter names global giant General Electrics Intelligence Platforms ("GEIP"), which designs and manufactures components for video and/or flight control systems. GEIP's manufacturing facility in Towcester, Northamptonshire NN12 6PF makes and exports these components and technologies as Commercial Off the Shelf products, meaning that currently there are no controls on their export for illegal use.
Reprieve founder and director Clive Stafford Smith said:
"The CIA's illegal killing programme is causing untold suffering to the people of Pakistan, with the support of supposedly ethical British corporations. The Department for Business is responsible for preventing British companies engaging in illegal activities, and must take immediate action on this issue. It is difficult to think of a more heinous business than helping to kill, maim and terrify citizens of a so-called ally with whom we are not at war."
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Katherine O'Shea on +44 (0) 207 427 1082 / email@example.com, or go to http://www.reprieve.org.uk/investigations/drones/
2. Malik Jalal's letter before action can be read in full on Reprieve's website here: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/downloads/Letter_to_BIS_18_07_12.pdf
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.'
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