U.N. experts condemn drone attacks that killed wedding convoy members

Dec. 27, 2013 at 1:13 PM   |   0 comments

SANAA, Yemen, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Independent U.N. human rights experts voiced concern about recent drone strikes in Yemen, stressing the need for accountability.

Local security officials say 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 injured when two separate wedding processions were hit Dec.12. The victims mistakenly were identified as members of al-Qaida.

When the incident occurred, Yemeni officials told CNN a U.S. drone targeted a wedding convoy in Yemen after intelligence reports misidentified the vehicles as carrying al-Qaida militants. The U.S. government declined to comment about the report .

"If armed drones are to be used, States must adhere to international humanitarian law, and should disclose the legal basis for their operational responsibility and criteria for targeting," Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Thursday in a statement.

Heyns called on the United States and Yemen to revel whether they were responsible and, if so, what standards were used to determine the targets, the number of civilians killed and whether compensation would be provided to victims' families.

Juan Mendez, a U.N. special rapporteur on torture, also expressed concern about the legitimacy of the airstrikes, stressing that nations were obligated to investigate the reported incidents, including any effects on civilians.

"A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if, as in this case, it results in serious physical or mental pain and suffering for the innocent victims," Mendez said.

Special rapporteurs are appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council to examine and report on a country situation or a specific human rights matter. The unpaid positions are honorary and the experts are not members of the U.N. staff.

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