Ben Emmerson QC, the UN’s special rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights returning from a three-day visit to Islamabad said he had been given assurances that there was no “tacit consent by Pakistan to the use of drones on its territory”.
Emmerson’s investigation team has gathered numerous reports from residents who witnessed the terrifying attacks.
“Adult males carrying out ordinary daily tasks were frequently the victims of such strikes,” a statement from the UN office for human rights said.
The strikes have sparked growing controversy due to their secret nature. However, the US has denied that its attacks have killed hundreds of people.
President Barack Obama has stepped up covert CIA drone strikes targeting al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border since he took office in 2009.
The strikes have caused growing controversy because of the secrecy surrounding them and claims that they have caused significant civilian casualties – allegations denied by the United States.
CIA director John Brennan has said that only in “exceedingly rare” cases have civilians been “accidentally injured, or worse, killed in these strikes.”
However reports by independent groups corroborate Emmerson’s account, concluding that drones mistakenly target and kill a significant number of civilians.
The New America Foundation estimates that in Pakistan, drones have killed between 1,953 and 3,279 people since 2004 – and that between 18% and 23% of them were not militants. The nonmilitant casualty rate was down to about 10% in 2012, the group says.