News / Asia

US Drone Strikes, Civilian Casualties Drop in Pakistan Last Year

UN Calls for Probe of Drone Attacksi
X
March 13, 2014 2:33 AM
The United Nations is calling for independent investigations into drone attacks, after an apparent three-fold increase in civilian deaths last year. As Henry Ridgwell reports, researchers are using innovative techniques to aid investigations.
VIDEO: The United Nations is calling for independent investigations into drone attacks, after an apparent three-fold increase in civilian deaths last year. As Henry Ridgwell reports, researchers are using innovative techniques to aid investigations.
Lisa Schlein
A United Nations investigation finds a significant reduction in the use of armed drones by the United States in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATA] of Pakistan in 2013. The report, which has been submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council, paints a much bleaker picture, however, of the use of drones in Afghanistan and Yemen.

Ben Emmerson, a British lawyer and special investigator on counterterrorism and human rights, said there were 27 recorded drone strikes in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas last year. That's down from a peak of 128 in 2010.

“But perhaps most significantly, for the first time in nine years there were no reports of civilian casualties during 2013 in the FATA area of Pakistan," he said. "The diplomatic and political efforts of Pakistan to bring these strikes to a halt, so as to enable peace talks with the Tehrik-i-Taliban to take place, appear to have borne fruit.” 

Emmerson said that so far this year, no drone strikes have taken place in Pakistan.

As for Afghanistan, the United Nations reported a three-fold increase in the number of civilian casualties last year compared to 2012. Emmerson said drones accounted for almost 40 percent of civilian casualties as a result of aerial attacks by pro-government forces.

In Yemen, he said the frequency of armed drone strikes intensified during the closing months of 2013, and it resulted in a sharp escalation in the number of reported civilian casualties.

Emmerson said drones, if used correctly and in compliance with international law, can prove to be a military asset.

“Drone technology allows almost real time, 24-hour surveillance and that, therefore, it improves the situational awareness of military commanders, so that if it is used strictly in accordance with the requirements of the law, drone technology is capable of reducing the risk of civilian casualties in armed conflict,” he said.

Emmerson has been investigating civilian casualties arising from the use of armed drones for 14 months. He examined 37 drone strikes in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza. In the end, he reduced the sample list of 37 strikes to 30 where he was able to find credible sources to back up reported civilian casualties.

Emmerson noted, however, that the mere existence of credible allegations of civilian deaths or injuries does not necessarily establish any violation of international law, or that a war crime has been committed.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs