The United Nations has called on the US to release the footage of its deadly assassination drone strikes in different parts of the globe or face an international inquiry.
UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism Ben Emmerson said on Sunday that the US is coming under mounting global pressure over its use of assassination drones, adding that he is preparing a report on the issue for the next session of the Human Rights Council in March.
Emmerson also urged Washington to open itself to an independent probe into the legality of such attacks that will “remain at the top of the UN political agenda until some consensus and transparency has been achieved.”
“We can’t make a decision on whether it is lawful or unlawful if we do not have the data. The recommendation I have made is that users of targeted killing technology should be required to subject themselves, in the case of each and every death, to impartial investigation. If they do not establish a mechanism to do so, it will be my recommendation that the UN should put the mechanisms in place through the Human Rights Council, the General Assembly and the Office of the High Commissioner,” he said.
Emmerson also lashed out at the US President Barack Obama Administration for “the position that it will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the drone program, whilst allowing senior officials to give public justifications of its supposed legality in personal lectures and interviews.”
Emmerson said a large number of lawsuits have been filed against the US government in different parts of the world over such attacks with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union being among the institutions that have launched legal actions.
“There are now a large number of lawsuits, in different parts of the world, including in the UK, Pakistan and in the US itself, through which pressure for investigation and accountability is building,” Emmerson said.
CCR says an estimated 2,500 people have been killed in drone strikes since Obama came to power in January 2009.
The US uses drones for combat and espionage missions in several countries including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The US claims the pilotless aircraft target militants but many of the victims turn out to be civilians.
The aerial attacks were initiated by former US President George W. Bush, but have escalated under Obama.
Pakistan in particular has objected to the US assassination drone attacks on its territory, arguing that the strikes violate its sovereignty.