Inquiry into UK’s drones could shed light on ‘secret war’ by US
2012-11-20 0:00


London: British MPs are set to open an inquiry into Britain’s use of drones to kill militants.

The investigation will be carried out by the Commons Defence Select Committee into country’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

It is believed that scrutiny of the use of the unmanned weapons could shed light on the “secret war” being waged remotely by the US against terror suspects in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

The Commons Defence Select Committee will consider the tactic, and MPs and peers could also debate Britain’s drone policy and the ethics of attacking people remotely, the Telegraph reports.

Ministers are likely to come under pressure to disclose whether they are sharing intelligence with the US to help the CIA with its drone attacks, the report said.

“An unmanned aerial vehicle is the same as any other platform that fires weapons. The issues that are concerning people are the distance between the person who is controlling that platform and the death that results from it,” James Arbuthnot, the Conservative chairman of the Defence Committee, said.

Britain has deployed drones in Afghanistan since 2006 and last month it was announced that a new squadron of unmanned RAF drones controlled for the first time from terminals in Britain would begin operations over the country within weeks, the report said.

But the use of drones is controversial because of fears that civilians can be killed and injured by them.

Human rights campaigners claim that civilian deaths resulting from drone strikes constitute a ‘war crime’.

The US has been particularly criticised for its programme of targeted drone killings against militants in Pakistan’s tribal heartlands.

Philip Alstron, the former UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing, suggested Britain could make the US’s use of drones less shrouded in secrecy however, it added.

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