The use of drones — killing without trial? («Deutsche Welle», Germany)

Since 2001, the United States used to destroy the terrorists unmanned combat unit. During the operations are often killed and civilians. Is this acceptable from a legal and ethical point of view?

Imagine this scenario: in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a truck pulls up to the village. And there — Fair, pandemonium. CIA specialists, checking the pictures from drones, satellite intelligence data and reports from agents come to the conclusion that the truck driver and his mate — the terrorists. A cargo — hundreds of kilograms of explosives.

Truck — a bomb on wheels. The village may be killed hundreds of civilians. In order to prevent the tragedy, the operator in faraway America, just press the button. Obediently drone fired a missile, truck, along with the terrorists blow up, and before reaching the village. Terrorist attack prevented.

A little murderous statistics

From June 2004 to September 2012 the CIA and the U.S. military command 344 times gave the order to attack targets from unmanned devices. Arithmetic in these targeted killings is simple: kill one or two terrorists — has saved the lives of dozens, if not hundreds of civilians. John Brennan, who was tipped to head the CIA, admires the "surgical precision" of such attacks. According to him, the use of drones would "remove a cancerous tumor, called" Al-Qaeda "with minimal damage to surrounding tissue."

But the simple scenarios happen only in Hollywood or in commercials. And what if the truck rides a bus with passengers? Sacrifice the lives of some of any innocent life to save others? What if a terrorist managed to identify 60%, and not a hundred?

Until September 2012 only in Pakistan as a result of fire from unmanned devices have been killed from 2562 to 3325, among them — from 474 to 881 civilians. This is — the calculations of the independent Office of Investigative Journalism in London. Such a wide spread of numbers, because the U.S. administration fundamentally does not comment on operations with the use of drones. Journalists had to collect data from the media and witness interviews on the spot.

The death sentence in absentia and without trial

In 2011, the U.S. used drones for targeted destruction of terrorists, members of illegal armed groups and drug traffickers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Mexico. Use of drones and the United Kingdom, Israel and Russia. In Germany in service until only unmanned reconnaissance unit.

Technological advances have made the targeted elimination of a popular method of warfare XXI century, U.S. security expert Armin Krishnan. In his essay "The targeted killing" Krishnan so summarizes the arguments for the use of drones, "The war has become more fair and morally justified since, as a fly-fall only guilty or responsible for it."

On the verge of or below the legality?

Critics have compared the use of drones to the attack, extra-judicial killings or murder sanctioned by the state. From the point of view of international law, killing of combatants is permissible if the two countries are at war. However, for example, Pakistan and the United States is not officially at war, and therefore targeted killings in Pakistan are illegal. Exception: the prevention of the immediate threat to human life.

Situation, albeit at a stretch, you can compare with a shot to defeat, when a police officer forced to kill the criminal in order to save the life of a hostage. With a stretch because the police acting on their own territory, and killing by drones are usually carried out on the territory of other countries.

In September 2012 the Faculty of Law at Stanford University and the School of Law at New York University have jointly published a report entitled "Life in the shadow of drones." The authors conclude that prove a "direct threat" in cases of drones in Pakistan is extremely difficult.

Since the White House to classify all of the operations to give a legal assessment of such action impossible. "The United States does not comply with their obligations under international law, namely, do not provide access to the data and do not report the transactions" — the document says.

Drones instead of Guantanamo

In the absence of information to judge the effectiveness of the practice is difficult to use drones. The laws of war permit "collateral damage" — civilian deaths, if the scale of such losses commensurate with the achieved goals. Empirical studies, however, lead to the opposite conclusion. According to CNN military analyst Peter Bergen, eliminate the really high-risk and long-wanted terrorist can be extremely rare. The proportion of such operations — about two percent. But the share of civilian casualties using drones — much higher. All this is only destabilize the situation in countries such as Pakistan.

When former U.S. President George W. Bush of persons suspected of terrorism detained and placed in a special prison, outside the jurisdiction of the United States, the analyst Armin Krishnan. There they were held for years without trial, and even tortured. President Barack Obama immediately after coming to power pledged to put an end to impunity. The promise is not fulfilled: the camp at Guantanamo Bay is still there. The U.S., meanwhile, "moved from the practice of detention to the practice of targeted killings."

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