US drone attacks in Yemen set dangerous precedent: Study
A new investigation into US drone strikes in Yemen shows that Washington has not abided by its own policies in connection with ensuring the safety of civilians.
The study conducted by the Open Society Justice Initiative said that the Obama administration is setting a dangerous example for other countries seeking to use drones to target terrorists, the New York Times reported.
The legal advocacy group based in New York released its inquiry on Monday, showing that 26 civilians, including five children were killed in US drone strikes in Yemen from 2012 to 2014 in addition to 13 other civilians who were also injured in the air raids carried out by both the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command.
“We’ve found evidence that President Obama’s standard is not being met on the ground,” said Amrit Singh, a senior legal officer at the Open Society Justice Initiative and a primary author of the report. “There’s a real question about whether the near-certainty standard is being applied in practice.”
In May 2013, Obama said, “Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured — the highest standard we can set.”
However, he said that some civilian casualties were inevitable, adding, “For me, and those in my chain of command, those deaths will haunt us as long as we live.”
Although President Barack Obama has promised to show greater openness about the drone program, his administration has continued to keep it secret saying nothing publicly about strike targets and results.
But independent studies carried out by groups like the Open Society Justice Initiative and the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, a Yemeni group that interviewed witnesses, partly filled the resulting information vacuum.
The US has been carrying out drone strikes in a number of Muslim countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. Civilians have been the main victims of such attacks in numerous cases.