Complaint filed at ICC over NATO allies' complicity in US drone strikes

Friday 21 February 2014

Victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan have filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court accusing NATO members of war crimes. The allegations relate to intelligence sharing between NATO members in relation to the United States' programme of drone strikes.

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Human rights charity Reprieve and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights filed the complaint at the ICC on behalf of victims of drone attacks. While the US has refused to sign the Rome Statute which would bring it within the ICC's jurisdiction, it has been revealed that the UK, Germany, Australia and other NATO member states have assisted the US mission through the sharing of intelligence. As signatories to the Rome Statute they are all amenable to investigation by the Court.

The allegations relate to violations of international criminal law in launching drone strikes from Afghanistan and killing and maiming thousands in Pakistan. A disproportionately high number of victims have been civilians, of whom a disturbingly high proportion have been children.

Previous legal action in the UK courts failed when the Court of Appeal refused to pass judgment on the actions of the US for risk of causing political embarrassment between the two countries.

Richard Harvey together with Conor McCarthy of Doughty Street Chambers drafted the legal brief to the ICC pro bono. They were instructed by Richard Stein and Rosa Curling of Leigh Day.

Speaking about the legal action, Richard Harvey said:
"Reprieve has provided the ICC with comprehensive evidence that the UK, through its GCHQ intelligence facility, is complicit in causing mass civilian casualties in Pakistan. US drones launched from Afghanistan have killed and maimed thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children. Under the Rome Statute, we maintain that the ICC Prosecutor has no choice: she is mandated to investigate, and the UK and other State Parties are required to assist her investigation."

Richard Harvey is Chair of Garden Court International, and an expert on international criminal law.

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