UK's use of drones in Afghanistan 'may be in breach of international law'

Campaigning lawyers challenge legal defence set out by RAF as six protesters await trial over mass trespass of UK drone HQ

The use of remotely piloted drones by British forces in Afghanistan may be in breach of international law, a controversial legal opinion circulated to peace campaigners and released on Saturday claims.

The argument challenges the well established legal defence set out by the RAF for deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the UN-sanctioned conflict.

Publication of the document coincides with the court appearance this week of six anti-drone protesters who pleaded not guilty to causing criminal damage following the first mass trespass inside the RAF’s new ground control for Afghan drone operations.

Written by Phil Shiner and Dan Carey of the Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers, the legal opinion argues that use of drones inside Afghanistan, which is a UN-declared conflict zone, is subject to the European convention on human rights (ECHR). That principle is already established in British case law, they say, in relation to the case of Al Skeini, which went to judges in Strasbourg and concerned the killing of civilians during British security operations in Iraq.

Their document states: “The requirement …read more  

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