Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) and Reprieve have launched a Report on the issue of compensation for the victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan
10 December 2015, Islamabad: A report titled International Failure to Redress Pakistani Victims of U.S. Drone Strikes was launched by Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR), an Islamabad-based legal advocacy group in collaboration with London based legal-aid charity, Reprieve, today at Margalla Motel. The event was attended by several influential political figures including the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan, British human rights lawyer human rights attorney and founder of Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith (Reprieve), the director of FFR and lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar.
The report, International Failure, builds a case for reparations to the civilian victims of U.S.-led drone strikes under domestic and international law. Using several new, previously un-reported case studies of civilians who have been killed by drones, the study argues that the primary duty for compensation belongs to the Pakistani state. To address it, International Failure recommends that the Pakistani government seek reparations from the United States under international law.
Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Director FFR, says, follies of US drone strikes are countless and from their inception these have been targeted civilians and this still continues as it is shown the report. What is most inexcusable is the lack of acknowledgment of Pakistani civilian victims existence and lack of any compensation paid to them. It is about time that our government not only takes immediate steps to redress the civilian victims but also seek reparation in their behalf form the US.
One of the new cases is of civilian casualties from 2014 and the report narrates story of Lambhay who was injured in a drone strike in area of Shawal in North Waziristan few days after Eid ul Adha where two locals namely Saladin and Rehman Gull died in the strike.
Clive Stafford Smith, says: As an American, I have to admit that it is a long-standing problem that we do not recognise our mistakes, apologise and do what we can to compensate innocent victims. This report reflects in stark terms the fact that we value Pakistani life at Zero, a situation that is offensive and simply cannot continue. I therefore call upon my own government to compensate those innocent people caught in America’s cross-fire.
International Failure brings attention to the fact that the only time President Obama has accepted deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan was in 2015 when a drone strike killed an American and an Italian. That incident remains the only time the American President apologized for the loss of civilian life and promised a full investigation into the matter.
International Failure highlights examples of other jurisdictions where US, and home governments, have paid compensation in Yemen, Iraq and in Afghanistan, the US has paid tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes publicly and sometimes secretly, to drone victims. While the US government has set up a 40 million Dollars Pakistani Civilian Assistance Fund (PCAF) modelled after funds in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no evidence that any of the fund money has reached civilian victims of US drone strikes.
The drone strikes have not stopped despite a 2013 judgment by the Peshawar High Court, unequivocally declaring these strikes unlawful and a war crime. The UN Human Rights Council also raised concerns in 2014.
International Failure demands the immediate initiation of criminal proceedings against those involved in and assisting the CIA with its illegal drone program. The report also recommends that a public inquiry be set up to assess the physical and psychological impact of drones on civilian lives in FATA. International Failure further recommends that the government initiate independent mechanisms to accept, assess and distribute compensation claims. It finally also demands the abolition of Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) and changes to Article 247 of the Constitution.
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. For any further information please contact: Ayesha Siddique Khan email: [email protected] or Call: 051-2293103