Growing use of drones in law enforcement may violate human rights, warns UN expert

Daily Times: UNITED NATIONS: The increasing use of armed drones within domestic law enforcement risks depersonalizing the use of force and infringing upon the rights of individual citizens, a United Nations human rights expert warned on Thursday.
In presenting his report on the use of armed drones within law enforcement to the General Assembly body that deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues (Third Committee), Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, stressed that such mechanized systems, controlled by a human from a distance, can hardly do what police officers are supposed to do, such as using the minimum force required by the circumstances and assisting those who need help.
The situation becomes even more problematic when the police use increasingly autonomous weapons, that is, weapons that have on board computers which decide on the use of force, Heyns continued. The decreased personal involvement of police officers in the deployment of force raises the question, among others, of who is responsible if thingsgo wrong.
In his report, the Special Rapporteur reminded Member States that the protection of rights such as the right to life and personal security and of human dignity outweigh the advantages gains from outsourcing police work to machines.
In addition, he noted the requirement under human rights law callingfor authorities to use the minimum amount of force required by the circumstances of each case, citing an increasing number of examples in
which individuals were killed or seriously injured as a result of improper use of weapons considered to be less lethal. “The relationship between the State and those under its protection is very different from its relationship with those it regards as its enemies during armed conflict”, Heyns said.

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