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Death by drone: How can states justify targeted killings?

Al Jazeera

In a move that caused a ripple effect across the Middle East, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad's international airport on January 3. On that day, the Pentagon announced the attack was carried out "at the direction of the president". In a new report examining the legality of armed drones and the Soleimani killing in particular, Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial and arbitrary killings, said the US raid that killed Soleimani was "unlawful". Callamard presented her report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday. The United States, which is not a member after quitting the council in 2018, rejected the report saying it gave "a pass to terrorists". In Callamard's view, the consequences of targeted killings by armed drones have been neglected by states.


US killing of Iran's Qassem Soleimani 'unlawful': UN expert

Al Jazeera

The US drone strike that killed Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani was "unlawful", the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings concluded in a report on Tuesday. US President Donald Trump ordered the killing in a January 3 drone strike near Baghdad international airport. Soleimani was "the world's top terrorist" and "should have been terminated long ago", Trump said at the time. Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was also killed in the attack. Callamard concluded that it was an "arbitrary killing" that violated the UN charter.


US denounces UN report on Iran general's 'unlawful' killing

Al Jazeera

The United States lashed out on Wednesday at a United Nations probe into the American drone attack that killed a top Iranian general, saying it gave "a pass to terrorists". US President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran's General Qassem Soleimani in a January attack near Baghdad's international airport. The incident stoked fears of an all-out conflict between Iran and the US. The US air raid that killed Soleimani and others in his convoy was "unlawful" and an "arbitrary killing" that violated the UN charter, the UN expert on extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard, concluded in a report on Tuesday. She said the US provided no evidence "an imminent attack" against American interests was being planned and, therefore, its "self-defence" justification did not apply.


Qassem Soleimani strike violated international human rights law, UN official argues

FOX News

After a U.S. airstrike kills Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells'Fox & amp; Friends' that President Trump's decision was necessary to deter further aggression. The U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing on Friday said the President Trump-approved drone strike against Qassem Soleimani, Iran's top general, violated international human rights law. In a lengthy Twitter thread, Agnès Callamard said that "outside the context of active hostilities, the use of drones or other means for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal," adding that the U.S. would need to prove the person targeted constituted an imminent threat to others. She also took issue with the justification for using drones in another country on the basis of self-defense. "Under customary international law States can take military action if the threatened attack is imminent, no other means would deflect it, and the action is proportionate," she wrote.


The Killing of Qassim Suleimani Was Unlawful, Says U.N. Expert

NYT > Middle East

Ms. Callamard's report as a United Nations independent expert is intended as an international wake-up call that will help to generate critical scrutiny and action on issues hitherto debated mainly by academics, lawyers and security experts. There is an urgent need for international action to monitor and regulate the use of drones and the threat they pose to international law, Ms. Callamard said. In the absence of a clear legal framework for holding states accountable for drone strikes, she called for the U.N. Security Council to review all targeted killings and for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit annual reports on drone strike casualties. A State Department spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, condemned Ms. Callamard's report as "dishonest" and "tendentious" and said that, by "giving a pass to terrorists," it underscored why the United States was right to leave the Human Rights Council in 2018. General Suleimani commanded Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the military that ran clandestine operations across the Middle East and was designated by President Trump as a foreign terrorist organization in April 2019.