UN rapporteur on drone attacks concludes three-day visit


The head of the United Nations (UN) team that is investigating civilian casualties in the American drone strikes in Pakistan on Friday said the attacks by unmanned spy planes violated Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, concluded his three-day visit to Islamabad on Friday.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office also issued a statement at the end of Emmerson’s visit to Islamabad.

It said, “A part of his work as the UN Special Rapporteur is to study the civilian impact of the use of drones. At present, he is working on his annual report to the General Assembly, which focuses on the civilian impact of the use of drones.”

During the visit, the special rapporteur called on the minister for foreign affairs, adviser to the prime minister on human rights, the chairman of the Senate standing committee on defence and defence production and the foreign secretary besides holding talks with senior government officials.

“In order to ascertain first hand information on drone strikes and its impact on civilians, the special rapporteur also met with tribal Maliks and victims of drone strikes in Islamabad,” the statement said.

During the interaction, Pakistan reiterated its position that drone strikes were counter-productive, against international law and a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Emmerson will present his report on the issue of drones during the 68th session of the General Assembly in October 2013,” the foreign office said.

According to Emmerson’s statement, during the three day visit, Pakistani officials told him (Emmerson) that as many as 400 civilians were killed by the US drones.

A Pakistani diplomat said it was Pakistan’s stance that the drone strikes being carried out in the Tribal Areas were counterproductive and they caused anti-Americanism among the people.

“The UN special rapporteur was told that besides being counterproductive, the drone strikes also violated Pakistan’s sovereignty. Ben agreed with the stance of Islamabad,” the diplomat said, seeking anonymity.

He said that apart from Pakistan, the UN investigators would also travel to other countries where the drone strikes were being carried out by the US to continue with their probe into the drone strikes and once they were done with their job, the team would submit its report before the UN General Assembly later in October this year.