An RAF drone. Confusion over the legal framework for strikes outside warzones exposes pilots through to ministers to ‘criminal prosecution’ [Image: Cpl Steve Bain ABIPP/PA].

An RAF drone. Confusion over the legal framework for strikes outside warzones exposes pilots through to ministers to ‘criminal prosecution’ [Image: Cpl Steve Bain ABIPP/PA].

The most telling part of this story is where it states the Crown Prosecution Service is “highly unlikely” to pursue a criminal prosecution for murder or complicity in murder relating to drone strikes. Why not?

Look at the case quoted – the killing of Reyaad Khan. Were we at war with Syria? No. Was there evidence that this individual had committed crimes against the UK that justified such a strike? No.

Doesn’t that make it a murder case?

We don’t prosecute people for crimes they haven’t committed yet. We should not, therefore, kill people for them, either.

The JCHR seems happy to collude with the Conservative Government on this matter though – instead of taking a hard line against such crimes, its members seem keen to establish a legal excuse and allow the killings to continue.

Not in my name, please.

British drone pilots, intelligence officers and ministers could face murder charges if the government does not clarify its policies on targeted killing, a parliamentary committee has warned.

Confusion over the precise legal justification exposes frontline personnel and all those involved in decisions to launch lethal attacks outside warzones to “criminal prosecution for murder or complicity in murder”, according to a report by the joint committee on human rights (JCHR).

Although the Crown Prosecution Service is highly unlikely to pursue such a case in the UK, other nations might do so, for example if their citizens were killed abroad, its MPs and peers caution.

“We owe it to all those involved in the chain of command for such uses of lethal force to provide them with absolute clarity about the circumstances in which they will have a defence against any possible future criminal prosecution, including those which might originate from outside the UK,” says the committee, chaired by the former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman MP.

The committee launched its inquiry after David Cameron announced that UK drones had targeted and killed a 21-year-old Briton Reyaad Khan in Syria last August.

Cameron described the strike on Khan as a “new departure”, explaining that this was the first time in modern times that the UK had used a drone to kill someone in a country where it was not at war.

While the UK government denies it has a “targeted killing policy”, the committee notes the phrase “sounds uncomfortably close to assassination” and that Britain does have “a policy to use lethal force abroad outside armed conflict for counter-terrorism purposes”.

Questions remain about the legal basis for such killings. The government refused to answer detailed queries about “important aspects” of the legal framework, and provided differing explanations to parliament and to the UN, says the committee.

Source: UK drone strikes ‘could leave all those involved facing murder charges’ | Politics | The Guardian


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