What’s going on?
The drone killing program is the new face of counter-terrorism policy in the United States. This ‘death penalty without trial’ has already killed more than 4,000 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Most remain nameless, even to the Congressional Committees which oversee the policy. Reprieve has produced several investigative reports suggesting the program is counterproductive, with a profound radicalizing effect.
How does it work?
As Reprieve began freeing Guantánamo Bay prisoners in the aftermath of the ‘War on Terror’, George Bush’s Attorney General told our attorneys: “if you don’t let us imprison and interrogate these guys, we will just kill them”.
Now, this has come to pass. The US President regularly signs off on a CIA ‘Kill List’ – which has included authorizing the assassination of a US citizen and his teenage son. Assassination targets are often chosen using metadata – ie phone and GPS records – and in such cases even the intelligence services often do not know who they are killing.
Drone attacks frequently kill and maim civilians, and cause men, women and children to live in constant fear of the skies overhead. Their experience of drones is often their first and only encounter with the USA. This can have a profound radicalizing effect, potentially swelling the numbers of those who wish to cause harm to the US and other Western states.
Like Guantánamo Bay, the drones program initially attracted little opposition because its victims were presented to the public as the ‘worst of the worst’. But despite claims to accuracy, the error rate is unacceptably high – and victims are never given a chance to defend themselves.
What we do
- Reprieve US is assisting survivors and victims’ families in their fight for legal accountability, transparency and justice. We oppose the illegitimate, off-battlefield use of weaponized drones anywhere in the world.
- We are at the forefront of investigating, litigating and publicizing drone attacks. We take witness statements from people directly affected by drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions, working with partners on the ground there and in Yemen.
- Our international team finds survivors and speaks to the families of victims, helping them to challenge the strikes in court and amplifying their voices in the media so that the world can hear their stories.
- We bring drone strike survivors to testify before US Congress. This allows American politicians and the American public to hear directly from drone victims.
- Reprieve US supports over 200 individuals and families affected by drone strikes, and make sure they are heard in official debate on this shadowy and illegal policy.
“Greater transparency is just the start of what we need. We also need a fundamental reassessment of whether the secret drone war does more harm than good.”
-Alka Pradhan, Reprieve US attorney
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