REPRIEVE PRESS RELEASE
A Pakistan court will tomorrow (9 May) hand down judgement in a case brought against the country’s government by victims of US drone strikes.
The victims are asking the Peshawar High Court to order Pakistan’s government to take measures to protect the people of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) – which bear the brunt of the strikes – against attacks by the CIA’s robotic aircraft.
The case is being heard by Chief Justice Dost Muhammad, who has previously noted that the strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty, and any consent for them which may have been granted in the past by President Musharaf would have been both illegal and unconstitutional.
The case was filed by legal charity the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) on behalf of the civilian victims of a 17 March 2011 drone strike which hit a local meeting convened to resolve a chromite mining dispute in Datta Khel. The strike killed more than 50 people attending the meeting or ‘jirga.’
The petitioners are also seeking orders for Pakistan’s Government to take up their case for compensation in international forums including the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for victims in the case and Reprieve legal fellow in Pakistan said: “The victims of drone strikes in Pakistan have come a long way seeking justice from the courts and this decision will definitely provide some solace to their wounds. Drone strikes are illegal and counter-productive and the Pakistani government has failed its citizens in safeguarding their right to life. We are very hopeful that the court will finally provide some respite to the victims of the drone strike of 17th March and all others that have been wronged by the continuous denial of their fundamental right to life.”
Reprieve’s Director Clive Stafford Smith said: “We hope that this case will finally secure some justice for the victims of drone strikes. It must also put an end to the absurd idea that a government can consent to the murder of its own citizens by another state. For too long the CIA’s drones campaign has lurked in the shadows, both legally and morally – this case will help pull it out into the light.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell or Clemency Wells in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
2. Foundation for Fundamental Rights is a legal charity, working towards the advancement, protection and enforcement of fundamental human rights given to the citizens of Pakistan and guaranteed under the Constitution of Pakistan. For any further information please contact: Mariam Kazilbash email:firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.
Follow Reprieve on twitter: @ReprieveUK
Carol Anne Grayson is the Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She has been awarded the ESRC, 2009 Michael Young Prize, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.