Suit to allege unlawful drone attacks
LONDON | A British law firm said Sunday it would sue Foreign Secretary William Hague on behalf of a Pakistani man over claims that British intelligence was used to assist U.S. drone attacks.
London-based Leigh Day and Co. confirmed they would start formal proceedings at Britain’s High Court on behalf of Noor Khan, who says his father, Malik Daud, was killed by a U.S. strike in Pakistan.
Drone attacks have become a key feature of President Obama’s fight against terrorism in Pakistan, but many inhabitants are angry at the raids’ civilian casualties.
Sunday’s announcement coincided with another round of civilian deaths in the region. According to U.S. authorities, an American soldier went on an unprovoked rampage in an Afghan village and killed 16 people as they slept, mostly women and children.
Lawyers will claim that civilian intelligence officers who pass on intelligence to the U.S. are not “lawful combatants,” the law firm said, explaining that if they are not, the officers cannot claim a soldier’s immunity from criminal law and could be held liable as “secondary parties to murder.”
The lawyers also will argue that the immunity clause does not apply as Pakistan is not currently involved in an “international armed conflict.”
“There is credible, unchallenged evidence that [Mr. Hague] is operating a policy of passing intelligence to officials or agents of the U.S. government and that he considers such a policy to be in ‘strict accordance’ with the law,” Richard Stein, head of human rights at Leigh Day, said in a statement.
“If this is the case, the secretary of state has misunderstood one or more of the principles of international law governing immunity for those involved in armed attacks on behalf of a state,” Mr. Stein said.