By Asif Mehmood
The news item that US has decided to pace up its Drone Attacks in Pakistan is very disturbing and alarming. As we are down to the ugly list of options in this war on terror we must raise our concerns with the International community regarding status of Drone attacks inside Pakistan under the International law.
Here is the legal study about the status of Drone attacks inside Pakistan under the International law.
What is the status of innocent tribesmen under international law? Their indiscriminate killing is justified or not? What about an act of reprisal? Was it a criminal act on the part of tribesmen to look after those wounded and to feed the visitors? Is it permitted under international law to attack the places of worship? What the law says if there is doubt whether a mosque, school, madrassa or home is being used for military proposes or not? What are precautionary measures provided under international law? Is it legal to kill 140 innocents for each al-Qaeda operative The civilians have any protection under law or they can be butchered in the ongoing fashion?
The tribesmen, according to the fourth Geneva Convention (12 August 1949), are protected persons.
“No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they can’t be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.”
Article 28 of the Hague Resolution holds:
“The pillage of a town or place, even when taken by assault is prohibited.”
International Law doesn’t only protect the people but also their property. Another Article provides the same. According to Article 47 of The Hague Resolution “pillage is formally forbidden.”
It is interesting to note that the Geneva Convention omitted the word “formally” in order not to risk reducing, through a comparison of the text, the scope of other provisions which embody prohibitions, and which, while they contain no adverb, are nevertheless just as absolute in character.
In 1874, the Brussels Conference has established this rule that “an innocent person ought not to suffer for the guilty.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross has always raised its voice against reprisals. Article 2 (Paragraph 3) of the Geneva Convention of 1929 provides:
“Measures of reprisals are forbidden.”
Collective punishment is illegal. Only the culprit must be punished and not the innocent civilian is an established law. It has no legal justification to kill 140 innocent people fear each terrorist. Under Geneva Convention collective punishment is a war crime. Before the Geneva Convention Collective punishment has been regarded a valid tool. Initially the principle was laid down by Union general William Tecumseh Sherman in his Special field order 120, November 9, 1864 which laid out the rules for his “March to the sea in the American Civil War:
“V. To army corps commanders alone is entrusted the powers to destroy mills, houses, cotton gins etc ”