Amnesty International USA Responds to Drone Casualty Disclosure
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the Obama administration disclosed its assessment of the number of individuals killed by U.S. drone strikes since 2009. In response, Naureen Shah, Director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, issued the following statement:
“Today’s disclosure is a crucial shift away from the Obama administration’s longstanding policy of concealing information about civilians killed in drone strikes. It is a vital step in dismantling the dangerous precedent of a global, secret killing program.
“Amnesty International has consistently called on the United States government not only to be more transparent about its data and policy standards, but about it counts as a civilian. Without information on the administration’s definitions and legal standards for these strikes, any meaningful assessment of the numbers will be incomplete. This is not the end of the public conversation on U.S. drone strikes, but just the beginning.
“In the final year of his presidency, it is more important than ever for this administration to define both the justifications and the statistics related to all who have been killed by U.S. strikes, not just citizens of Western countries.
"President Obama’s willingness to comprehensively assess the impact of drone program and to apologize and compensate victims, will ultimately influence his human rights legacy and set a clear benchmark for the next administration and the one after that.”
In 2013, Amnesty International USA released a groundbreaking report indicating that the U.S. had carried out unlawful drone killings in Pakistan, some of which could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions. The report, “’Will I be next?’ US drone strikes in Pakistan,” provided new evidence that through drone strikes, the United States killed people who posed no apparent threat to life, including a 68-year-old woman, Mamana Bibi, and a 14-year-old boy, Saleh Khan.