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A GERMAN court ordered the government today to ensure the United States does not use its territory to carry out drone strikes in Yemen.
Munster’s Higher Administrative Court ruled that the German government has a duty to protect the right to life of those targeted and that it should encourage Washington to respect international law.
The ruling marks the first time a European country has been found to be playing an essential role in legally dubious drone strikes by the US military.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni engineer who lost two members of his family in a US drone strike in 2012, took legal action against the German government with the help of human rights organisations Reprieve and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in October 2014.
“I brought this case because I don’t want any other families to suffer the way that mine has,” Mr bin Ali Jaber said.
“Losing innocent family members, by mistake, to a US drone strike is something that no-one should have to go through.
“The US drone programme could not function without support from European countries like Germany and the UK. It is long past time these governments stepped up to prevent more innocent people being killed by US drones.”
Reprieve lawyer Jennifer Gibson, representing Mr bin Ali Jaber, said: “This is a groundbreaking result. The court has made one thing very clear to Germany; it can no longer hide in the shadows and absolve itself of responsibility for the innocent lives being destroyed by Trump’s illegal drone programme.
“The UK and other European countries are now on notice. They must hold President Trump to account and stop being complicit in these crimes.”
“The judgement from the court in Munster is an important step towards placing limits on the drone programme as carried out via Ramstein,” said Andreas Schuller of ECCHR, referring to the US air base in south-western Germany from which drone strikes are operated.
“Germany must now face up to its responsibility for these strikes.”
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that at least 897 people have been killed by US drone strikes in Yemen since they began in 2002. The US is not officially at war with the country.
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