No end in sight for US drone war via Germany

The ECCHR, together with the partner organization Reprieve, initiated in October 2014 a legal complaint for a Yemeni family, challenging the use of US-airbase Ramstein in drone strikes. On 27 May 2015, the Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht) of Cologne dismissed the claim brought against the German government by three Yemeni citizens. The claimants as well as the ECCHR and cooperation partner Reprieve regret the decision. The appeal to the Higher Administrative Court is currently pending and legal arguments have been exchanged between the parties. A oral hearing before the court is envisaged for 2017.

Germany's responsibility for the US drone war: "See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing"

Commenting on the adminsitrative court ruling ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck said after the hearing, “Today’s decision allows the German government to continue to play the innocent. See nothing, hear nothing, say nothing – with this strategy the government cannot and will not be able to meet its obligation to prevent human rights violations committed by the USA via German territory. On the contrary, with this approach Germany is making itself complicit in the deaths of civilians as part of the US drone war.”

No drone strikes without Ramstein

The claimants survived a drone strike in Yemen in which Ramstein played a central role. Two of their relatives died in the attack, while many other family members have been left traumatized.
“I had hoped that today the Court would restore Yemen’s faith in the West’s commitment to the rule of law, and that the German government would put a stop to its role in these illegal and immoral operations. But we will not give up: it is – quite simply – a matter of life or death for us,” said Faisal bin Ali Jaber after the court hearing, who brought the claim along with his relatives Ahmed Saeed bin Ali Jaber and Khaled Mohmed Naser bin Ali Jaber.

Declaration Faisal bin Ali Jaber for Court Hearing

Drones_Yemen_Hearing_Statement_FaisalBinAliJaber_engl.pdf (160.8 KiB)

The Family Bin Ali Jaber from Yemen vs Germany and the US

“Were it not for the help of Germany and Ramstein, men like my brother-in-law and nephew might still be alive today. It is quite simple: without Germany, US drones would not fly.” says Faisal bin Ali Jaber, survivor of a drone strike in Yemen and one of the claimants. On 15 October  2014 he and his relatives lodged a complaint against the German government. The three Yemeni nationals called on Germany to accept legal and political responsibility for US drone warfare in Yemen and to stop the use of the US military base and in particular the satellite relay station in Ramstein. “I am here to ask that the German people and Parliament be told the full extent of what is happening in their country, and that the German government stop Ramstein being used to help the US’ illegal and devastating drone war in my country,” said Faisal bin Ali Jaber.

The drone strike in Yemen on 29 August 2012
On 29th August 2012, five rockets fired by US drones struck the village of Khashamir in eastern Yemen. The extended bin Ali Jaber family had gathered in the village to celebrate a wedding. Two members of the family were killed in the strike. Other family members were left with ongoing trauma. The US military base in Ramstein was used to help carry out the attack. Despite this the German government continues to deny any responsibility for civilian deaths caused by US drone warfare.

European countries must stop helping the US drone war

“Ramstein is crucially important to US drone warfare. The German government must put an end to the use of this base – otherwise the government is making itself complicit in the deaths of innocent civilians,” said Andreas Schüller, head of the International Crimes and Accountability program at ECCHR. “Ramstein must no longer be used to control drone strikes. Germany cannot simply hide behind the Status of Forces Agreement."


  • drone war
  • drones
  • Germany
  • Ramstein
  • USA
  • Yemen