HRCP quotes UN report on ‘target killings’
LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday drew the government’s attention to a United Nations expert’s report on target killings, including those through drone strikes, and urged Islamabad to ensure its own forces do not violate human rights and the humanitarian law.
A statement issued by the commission said: “The report of UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston on legal issues raised by targeted killings is the latest in a series of reminders that governments’ arbitrary decisions and preference for targeted killings often justify criminal acts in the name of self-defence.
The UN expert has called the United States ‘the most prolific user of targeted killingsÂ’, primarily through drone attacks, which Mr Alston referred to as ‘ill-defined licence to kill without accountability’.
The UN expert has reiterated what HRCP and countless other rights organisations have long been emphasising that such actions by states do grave damage to the rules designed to protect the right to life and to prevent extrajudicial executions.
The report has raised the issue of death of innocent civilians in drone strikes and notes that even ‘[a] consenting state may only lawfully authorise a killing by the targeting state to the extent that the killing is carried out in accordance with applicable IHL or human rights law’.
The commission says the UN expertÂ’s report is relevant not only to drone strikes but also to actions of Pakistan’s own security forces. Islamabad will do well to pay heed to the issues raised by the special rapporteur, particularly the definition and scope of armed conflict in which the laws of war apply, the definition of who may be legitimately targeted and killed in the context of armed conflict and the rules governing the amount of force that may be used, it adds.
HRCP asks the government to pay attention to the report’s recommendations, particularly with regard to transparency in accountability to investigate unlawful targeted killings.
It says terrorists not playing by rules do not justify governments casting those rules aside or reinterpreting them. The UN expert correctly points out that the credibility of any government’s claim that it is fighting to uphold the rule of law indeed depends on its willingness to disclose how it interprets and applies the law and the actions it takes when the law is broken.”