The almost global capacity to conduct airstrikes anytime, anywhere: that is one of the most distinctive features of armed drones – and therefore a new dimension of warfare. Since many years the US employs drone strikes in the thousands. Again and again, innocent people are killed in the attacks – in many different countries, among them Pakistan.
On 4 October 2010, a US drone strike killed German citizen Bünyamin E in Pakistan. Obliged under German law, the Federal Public Prosecutor initiated a criminal investigation, but closed the file soon after. In 2013, ECCHR analyzed the German prosecutor’s decision to discontinue investigations into the death of Bünyamin E.
According to ECCHR’s examination, the decision raises a number of serious doubts as to the application and interpretation of the law and shows insufficient investigations. ECCHR supported Bünyamin E’s family members, produced a 3-D reconstruction of the strike together with Forensic Architecture, took part in an exhibition, theatre play and several expert talks and public debates about the case, legal standards and drones.
US drone warfare often violates international law, such as strict rules on the use of force and self-defense (ius ad bellum), principles and customs of war (ius in bello), basic human rights (namely the right to life and physical integrity), by attacking individuals without sufficiently determining their status. This results in blatant violations of human rights and international law.