Salon.com: A report by a UN expert urges the US to ‘release its own data on the level of civilian casualties’ caused by drone strikes and attacks the lack of transparency surrounding CIA and US special forces drone operations.
Ben Emmerson, a British barrister and UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism, has released the second of two major UN reports in a week to examine the use of drones both in conflict zones and in covert settings.
In the earlier report, Christof Heyns also called for increased transparency around the use of drones. In the new report Emmerson emphasises that this is a vital step to ensuring accountability and redress for the civilian victims of drone strikes.
Emmerson says: ‘The single greatest obstacle to an evaluation of the civilian impact of drone strikes is lack of transparency, which makes it extremely difficult to assess claims of precision targeting objectively.’
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The report says the involvement of the CIA in drone operations has created an ‘almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency’, and he is also critical of the ‘almost invariably classified’ nature of special forces drone operations in Yemen and Somalia. ‘The Special Rapporteur does not accept that considerations of national security justify withholding statistical and basic methodological data.’