Covert Action

Open Society Justice Initiative Issues New Report on U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen

By Cody M. Poplin
Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 3:16 PM

The Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) has released a new report that documents civilian casualties caused by U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. According to the authors, the report, entitled Death By Drone, uses nine case studies to explore whether the Obama administration kept its promise that "there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured." The OSJI concludes that these nine cases raise serious questions as to whether the United States is complying with its own policy guidance as well as international law relating to targeted killings.

Based on its findings, the report issues nine recommendations:

To the Governments of the United States and Yemen:

  1. Ensure the U.S. targeted killings in Yemen comply with international law.
  2. Conduct effective investigations into all credible allegations of unlawful civilian casualties associated with U.S. airstrikes in Yemen, including those documented in this report, prosecute and impose disciplinary measures and/or other penalties where appropriate, and publicly disclose findings.
  3. Publicly acknowledge the numbers and identities of civilians killed and injured by U.S. airstrikes in Yemen as well as the criteria for determining civilian and non-civilian status.
  4. Create a formal mechanism by which civilians can seek and obtain prompt and meaningful reparations for civilian harm caused by U.S. airstrikes.

To the United States Government:

  1. Publicly disclose the full legal basis for U.S. targeted killings, including those documented in this report.
  2. Publicly disclose the May 2013 Presidential Policy Guidance relating to targeted killings, and clarify where it applies, when it took effect, and how it is enforced.

To the other Governments that have participated in U.S. targeted killing operations:

  1. Publicly disclose policies, practices, and full legal basis for participation in U.S. targeted killings, including but not limited to the context of intelligence sharing and hosting of U.S. bases supporting targeted killing operations.
  2. Conduct effective investigations into credible allegations of unlawful participation in U.S. targeted killings, prosecute and impose disciplinary measures and/or other penalties where appropriate, and publicly disclose the findings of said investigations.
  3. In cases where unlawful participation has occurred, provide prompt and meaningful reparations for civilian harm caused by U.S. targeted killings.

Scott Shane of the New York Times covers the report, which you can read in full here.