The Court of Appeal in London today heard from the lawyer for a civilian drone strike victim, who is seeking answers over the UK’s role in supporting the CIA’s covert programme in Pakistan.
Noor Khan, from Datta Khel, North Waziristan, lost his father, Malik Daud Khan, in a March 2011 strike which hit a local meeting of elders which had gathered to resolve a chromite mining dispute. The court heard today that the strike killed 40 – 50 people, and that Mr Khan continues to hear drones overhead, engendering fear in the community.
Mr Khan is being assisted by human rights charity Reprieve and lawyers Leigh Day in bringing a judicial review of the UK Government’s reported policy of providing support for the CIA’s drone campaign. The campaign – carried out by the US intelligence agency using unmanned aircraft known as ‘drones’ – has been criticised for violating both domestic and international law by legal experts and rights groups.
Mr Khan (28) is asking the Foreign Secretary to clarify the Government’s position on sharing intelligence for use in CIA strikes, and challenging the lawfulness of such activities.
Earlier this month the Home Office refused Mr Khan a visa to travel to the UK to give evidence to a Parliamentary meeting to discuss drone strikes.
The two-day hearing is taking place today and tomorrow (2-3 December).
Reprieve Legal Director, Kat Craig said: “The court today heard about the devastating impact which the drone campaign has had on civilians in Mr Khan’s community. Yet the UK Government is fighting tooth and nail to keep its own part in this illegal and immoral programme under wraps. Ministers must come clean over whether our spies are supporting the CIA’s secret war, which has killed hundreds of civilians and terrorised many more.”