The PJ Tatler

Human Rights Group Targets UK over Drone Strike

Military Drone

The human rights organization Rights Watch (UK) is taking legal action against the British government after targeted drone strikes killed two British citizens who had joined ISIS in Syria.

Rights Watch (UK) has said it will issue judicial review proceedings in the high court unless the government publishes the legal advice it received from attorney general, Jeremy Wright QC, to justify the attacks, the Guardian reports.

“There is insufficient information in the public domain…to know whether the drone strikes that killed three individuals in Syria, including two British citizens, were done lawfully,” said Yasmine Ahmed, director of Rights Watch (UK).

“These strikes set a dangerous precedent for UK government activity. The UK government can now kill at will with no oversight.”

Two British citizens who fought for ISIS, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, were deliberately killed in an RAF targeted drone strike, David Cameron said on Monday. A third Briton, Junaid Hussain, also fighting for ISIS was killed in a US operation acting alongside UK intelligence.

UK defense secretary Michael Fallon has said that Great Britain would consider similar action against Britons who side with the terror organization. The case has sparked continued debate over what constitutes an imminent threat for a nation.

A state has a guaranteed right to self-defence, according to article 51 of the UN charter, but the way in which that is interpreted differs. British case law establishes that force can be used only if a threat is imminent and pursuing peaceful alternatives is not an option. The response to the threat must be proportionate.

However, after 9/11, the US government has operated with a looser definition of what is imminent which does not require the clear evidence of an attack in the immediate future.

“The US took the definition of imminence and turned it completely on its head,” Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer at the UK civil rights group told the Guardian. “Imminence was no longer imminent but rather sometime in the future and with no clear evidence required.

“The question for Cameron now is: which definition is he following? Has the UK also redefined imminence?”

The office of Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to comment or publish the communications regarding the strike.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / SonicN