Monday, March 25, 2019

Germany must investigate US drone murders

For the past 15 years the US has been murdering people all over Africa, Asia and the Middle East with drone strikes. At their best, these drone-strikes are simply outright assassinations. At their worst, they are indiscriminate murders or political killings of non-combatants - basicly, an airborne death squad. It is doubtful whether this policy of murder complies with international law. And now, a German court has ruled that that country's government can't just look the other way on it:

Three Yemeni men have scored a partial success after suing Germany for its apparent role in drone attacks that killed relatives. The plaintiffs want Berlin to stop the US using German territory to relay information.

A court in Münster on Tuesday ruled partly in favor of three plaintiffs from Yemen who believe that their relatives were killed in a 2012 US drone strike that was relayed via an airbase in Germany.

The Münster Higher Administrative Court ruled that the German government must take "appropriate measures" to ascertain whether US operations conducted via the Ramstein Air Base are in line with international law.

The court ruled that Berlin should also, if necessary, press Washington to adhere to international law on drone strikes.

There's more details here, but the short version is that the German government can no longer accept US assurances that everything is legal. Its unclear what would happen if the US refuses to cooperate with the required investigations, or they find that it is violating international law, but its not unthinkable that it could be ordered to cease any support for drone operations from German territory.

There's also implications here for New Zealand. Like Germany, we have a statutorily affirmed right to life which is binding on every action of any part of our government. And like Germany, parts of our government are providing tacit cooperation with US drone murders (in our case, far more directly: the GCSB provides them with information as part of the Five Eyes, and in 2014 the Prime Minister admitted that that information may have been used to murder people). The German ruling suggests that the GCSB can't just rely on US assurances of legality, but must actively investigate to ensure we are not assisting in an arbitrary deprivation of life or other violation of international law. The question is, who is going to make them do that?