Reprieve + 44 (0) 207 553 8166 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Fri 26 April 2013)


At a European Parliament hearing on drones yesterday, MEPs called on the EU to take action on transparency, accountability and arms exports.

The joint hearing of the Sub-Committees for Human Rights and for Security and Defence heard from a panel of experts on the use of armed robotic aircraft, including UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, Ben Emerson QC, and Reprieve Deputy Director Hilary Stauffer.

The panel debated whether current international law can adequately apply to armed drones, suggested ways to improve the transparency surrounding their use, and called for increased accountability on the state actors who deploy them.

Speaking during the debate, MEPs Sarah Ludford and Ana Gomes called for a European Parliament Resolution on the issue of drones, and suggested that the United States and Europe conduct a hearing on drones in the context of the Trans-Atlantic Dialogue. Ms Gomes called for EU governments and institutions to speak out against the U.S.’ current interpretation of international law. Some MEPs also suggested that drones needed to be included in the EU’s arms export controls.

A representative from the European External Action Service (the EU’s diplomatic service) noted that the EU does not currently have a formal, declared position on drones, but reiterated that the EU has consistently held that the fight against terrorism must be conducted in line with all relevant international law, including human rights law.

Reprieve’s Deputy Director Hilary Stauffer, a member of the panel, said: “We have been trying to engage European countries on this topic for a long time, as the United States is currently creating an entirely new set of legal justifications for the use of drones, which will have very negative ramifications if widely adopted. But more importantly, Reprieve wants European leaders to understand the terrible physical and psychological impact that drones have on civilian populations. Europe needs to find the courage to confront the United States and reject the current misguided narrative that drones are a ‘safe’ weapon. We will urge them adopt a common stance on the use of armed drones that will place human rights first and minimize damage to civilians.”


1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 /

2. 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.

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Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.




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