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Yemeni lawmakers angered by Easter violation of parliamentary drone ban, as US pledges to maintain secrecy


Yemeni MPs have voted to summon the Yemeni Minister of Interior and Minister of Defense over drone strikes which occurred over the Easter weekend killing at least four civilians. These strikes contravened a parliamentary resolution passed in December 2013 banning the use of drones on Yemeni territory.

In a parliamentary session on Sunday, MPs described the ongoing drone program as illegal, beyond the pale of international norms, and a violation of Yemeni sovereignty.

A Yemeni news source reported that the MP for Al-Bayda, the region in which four civilians were killed in a strike on April 19, stated that ongoing drone strikes are a primary motivation for locals to join Al-Qaeda.

Yemen's parliamentary vote came only days before it was revealed that the US Senate has axed a legal provision which would have required the Administration to report on drone casualties.

The Yemeni government has admitted that the Easter weekend killings mistakenly killed civilians. The US has made no comment, either to Yemeni lawmakers or the Yemeni people.

Yemeni MP Zaid Alshami said: “The US and Yemeni governments bear the responsibility for these utterly counterproductive killings which only increase sympathy for Al-Qaeda and revenge. These attacks continue to take place without warning, information or parliamentary approval. All we see is killing outside of the rule-of-law, which has increased the retaliatory violence, explosions and instability which are destroying Yemen and its people and destabilizing its economy. At the same time, Yemenis are only getting angrier at their government and the United States. These two governments must compensate bereaved Yemeni families, and end their drone attacks.”

Reprieve's Strategic Director Cori Crider said:  “We’re still largely in the dark about who died in the massive strikes over Easter, but Reprieve’s initial findings about al-Bayda are worrying. Meanwhile, drones are driving a dangerous wedge between the US and Yemen. The Obama administration claims to support democracy in Yemen; it’s time for the US put its money where its mouth is, and bring its counter-terrorism policies within the rule of law.”

ENDS
 
Notes to editors
 
1. For further information, please contact katherine.oshea@reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.

2. The two ministers summoned by Yemeni parliamentarians were the Minister of Defence, Major General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed and the Minister of Interior, Major General Abdo Hussein Al-Tareb.

3. Reprieve US opened in New York City in February 2014. A partner organization to Reprieve UK, Reprieve US provides advocacy and litigation aimed at stopping abuses in the death penalty and in counter-terrorism. For information about the work of Reprieve US please visit reprieve.org or contact Katherine O’Shea on katherine.oshea@reprieve.org or +1 917 855 8064.

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