Are weaponized drones responsible for human rights abuses?

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Unmanned aerial vehicles make it possible to rain death from above with little regard for what's down below. Missile-bearing drones often take out more civilians than targets. Now the UN is looking into how the secretive states that fly these weaponized aircraft are conducting themselves, or should. We ask the lead investigator how much co-operation he expects.



Are weaponized drones responsible for human rights abuses? - UN

Since 2004, people in Pakistan occasionally spot them soaring past the clouds. Occasionally, they hear the low moan of the unmanned aerial vehicles. And every now and then, they see what happens when the drones find their targets. The drone program is technically a secret CIA operation. But its the worst kept secret in Waziristan.

Madiha Tahir is a Pakistani-American journalist who's interviewed victims of the attacks. We aired a clip.

Weaponized drones are a powerful weapon. It's estimated more than 50 countries employ drones for everything from surveillance to targeted killings. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates more than 3000 people have been killed in drone strikes.

Several nations called for an investigation during the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last June. Now, an inquiry is in full swing.

Ben Emmerson, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, has announced a new panel of experts to help. The seven person panel will look at evidence from 25 case studies where drones may have killed civilians.
Ben Emmerson joined us from Bogota, Columbia.

Ben Emmerson's report on drone use is expected to be delivered to the UN General Assembly in October.

Are weaponized drones responsible for human rights abuses? - American Security Project

Not everyone thinks drones represent a new challenge to international law and order. Many see them as a legal option that helps meet security objectives while keeping civilian casualties low.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project. He writes extensively about drones and we reached him in Washington D.C.

Are weaponized drones responsible for human rights abuses?

Omar Shakir is at Stanford University's School of Law and is co-author of the report Living Under Drones which assessed US drone attacks on civilians in Pakistan. He was in Stanford, California.

Last Word - VICE Fund

Earlier, we heard how the mayor of Chicago is urging the TD bank to stop loaning money to gun maker Smith and Wesson. Many investors are attracted to funds that invest only in companies with strong environmental and social practices.

But the VICE Fund portfolio is filled only with tobacco, alcohol, casinos and munitions companies and enjoyed a reported 21 per cent growth in the past year.

Portfolio Manager Gerry Sullivan has toured most of the U.S. business shows to extol the wages of sin. He and Kay Starr get today's Last Word.


Other segments from today's show:

Should the RCMP train police in Saudi Arabia?

US mayors plead with TD Bank to stop loans to gun manufacturers

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