30 December 2013
UN Special Rapporteurs call on US and Yemen to disclose whether they were responsible for lethal drone airstrikes in Yemen
Christof Heyns, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, expressed doubt on the legality of the conduct of both the US and Yemen in relation to recent lethal drone airstrikes, allegedly conducted by US forces in the Republic of Yemen, that resulted in civilian casualties. According to local security officials, 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 injured when two separate wedding processions were hit on 12 December 2013 in the Al-Baida Governorate.
Heyns said in a press release: “If armed drones are to be used, States must adhere to international humanitarian law, and should disclose the legal basis for their operational responsibility and criteria for targeting” and that “Yemen cannot consent to violations of the right to life of people in its territory.” Heyns stressed the need for accountability and called on the US and Yemen to disclose whether they were responsible, and if so, what targeting standards were used, how many civilians were killed, and whether they plan to provide compensation for the victims’ families.
Also Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez expressed concern about the legitimacy of the airstrikes, highlighting that each state was obliged to undertake due investigation into the reported incidents, including the effect on civilians.