Sunday, 7 October 2012

Double Tap Drone Killings

A recent report by researchesr at Stanford Universtity entitled "Living Under Drones" (see summary at the end of this post) contained a section on the recent practice of "double tap" drone strikes, where people trying to rescue possible survivors of a first strike are hit by a second drone strike minutes later.

The report states that :

"... In a February 2012 joint investigative report, Chris Woods of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) documented that: of the 18 attacks on attacks on rescuers and mourners reported at the time by credible media, twelve cases have been independently confirmed by our researchers. In each case civilians are reported killed...

...Those interviewed for this report were acutely aware of reports of the practice of follow-up strikes, and explained that the secondary strikes have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.

...One interviewee told us that a strike at the home of his in-laws hit first responders: “Other people came to check what had happened; they were looking for the children in the beds and then a second drone strike hit those people.” A father of four, who lost one of his legs in a drone strike, admitted that, “[w]e and other people are so scared of drone attacks now that when there is a drone strike, for two or three hours nobody goes close to [the location of the strike]...

...Crucially, the threat of the “double tap” reportedly deters not only the spontaneous humanitarian instinct of neighbors and bystanders in the immediate vicinity of strikes, but also professional humanitarian workers providing emergency medical relief to the wounded. According to a health professional familiar with North Waziristan, one humanitarian organization had a “policy to not go immediately [to a reported drone strike] because of follow up strikes. There is a six hour mandatory delay.” ...

...The dissuasive effect that the “double tap” pattern of strikes has on first responders raises crucial moral and legal concerns. Not only does the practice put into question the extent to which secondary strikes comply with international humanitarian law’s basic rules of distinction, proportionality, and precautions, but it also potentially violates specific legal protections for medical and humanitarian personnel, and for the wounded. As international law experts have noted, intentional strikes on first responders may constitute war crimes." (emphasis BFTF's)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, BFTF will be challenging the local Conservative Party on why the UK's closest ally is routinely performing what may well be war crimes. The outcomes of this will be posted on the original "Drones Killing Civilians" post.

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