Drohnen - Italien - Sigonella

Stützpunkt Sizilien: Informations-Klage zu Italiens Beteiligung am US-Drohnenprogramm

Drohnen - Italien - Sigonella

Stützpunkt Sizilien: Informations-Klage zu Italiens Beteiligung am US-Drohnenprogramm

Der Militärstützpunkt Sigonella auf Sizilien (Italien) ist für US-Drohnenangriffe in Nordafrika von strategischer Bedeutung. Auf Basis eines – bisher unveröffentlichten – Abkommens zwischen Rom und Washington können die USA nach formaler Autorisierung durch den italienischen Kommandeur offenbar bewaffnete Drohnen von Sigonella aus einsetzen. Damit würde sich Italien bei den Drohnenangriffen direkt mitschuldig machen.

Das ECCHR hat gemäß des italienischen Informationsfreiheitsgesetzes (Freedom of Information Act) 2017 Anträge auf Zugang zu Informationen über US-Drohnen, die sich in Sigonella befinden, gestellt.

Fall

Im Juli 2017 reichte das ECCHR eine Klage beim Verwaltungsgericht in Rom ein, um Zugang zu den Dokumenten über Sigonella zu erhalten. Im Dezember 2017 wies das Gericht die Beschwerde aus verfahrenstechnischen Gründen zurück. Daraufhin legte das ECCHR im März 2018 daher beim Obersten Verwaltungsgericht von Italien (Consiglio di Stato) ein. Dieses gab dem ECCHR im Oktober 2019 Recht: es müsse weiter zu der Kooperation zwischen Italien und den USA ermittelt werden. Doch im Juli 2020 wies das Verwaltungsgericht in Rom die Informationsanfrage erneut zurück - aus formalen Gründen.

Kontext

Der Drohnenkrieg der USA verletzt oft internationales Recht – wie etwa strenge Regeln zur Anwendung von Gewalt und zur Selbstverteidigung (ius ad bellum), Prinzipien und Gesetze der Kriegsführung (ius in bello) sowie fundamentale Menschenrechte (das Recht auf Leben und körperliche Unversehrtheit). Die Anwendung tödlicher Gewalt gegen Personen außerhalb eines bewaffneten Konfliktes und gegen Personen, deren Status – ob militärisches Ziel oder Zivilist*in – nicht ausreichend geprüft wurde, ist eine grobe Verletzung der Menschenrechte und verstößt gegen das Völkerrecht.

Europa spielt eine Schlüsselrolle im US-Drohnenprogramm: Einige Länder – wie Italien – riskieren dabei, Beihilfe zu den Völkerrechtsverstößen und internationalen Straftaten zu leisten.

Grundlagen

Dieses Q&A informiert über die rechtlichen Grundlagen der Klage in Italien.

The Sigonella Air Base in Sicily is of strategic importance for US drone operations, in particular in Libya and other North African countries. Based on a – publicly undisclosed – agreement between Rome and Washington, it is understood that the US can operate armed drones from Sigonella subject to formal authorization by the Italian Commander. This could make Italy directly involved in drone attacks. 

ECCHR is seeking to obtain more information about the actual use of armed drones located in Sigonella and in particular the role played by Italy in US drone operations overseas.

Under Article 5 of Legislative Decree No. 33/2013, as amended in 2016, everyone is entitled to request access to any documents held by the public administration; a denial is possible but limited to exceptional cases set out in Article 5-bis. It is a general principle of administrative law that a comprehensive justification must be provided for any such denials.

In April 2017, ECCHR filed three requests to the Naval Air Commander of Sigonella, the Ministry of Defense and the Presidency of the Council of Ministries and received either no response or a denial of access. ECCHR had requested access to relevant information on Sigonella, including the costs of the airbase, the number of remotely piloted aircraft located at Sigonella, the number of personnel employed there, and the number and scope of authorizations given by the Italian Commander to the US Commander for extraterritorial operations carried out by armed drones.

A public administration body must respond to a request for information within 30 days; if it fails to do so, or denies access, according to Article 5 Paragraph 7 of Legislative Decree 33/2013 the applicant can file a request to a higher authority (“Responsabile della prevenzione della corruzione e della trasparenza”) within the administration to have the decision reviewed within a maximum of 20 days. This authority denied ECCHR’s requests for review in this case. ECCHR then filed a complaint to the administrative tribunal (TAR) and ultimately appealed to the Italian Supreme Administrative Court.

Measures taken by administrative authorities can generally be challenged at the regional administrative tribunal (Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale, TAR) in Rome. In July 2017, ECCHR filed a judicial complaint to the TAR regarding the denial of access, on the basis that insufficient reasons were given for the decision. In particular, Italian authorities failed to properly justify why the publication of the requested documents would endanger Italy’s defense or security interests or international relations and failed to properly consider the right to be informed about issues that are extremely relevant for public interest.

In December 2017, the TAR dismissed ECCHR’s complaint on procedural – and not substantial – grounds. In particular, the TAR found that the complaint was inadmissible due to the failure to notify possible counterparts of the complaint. These counterparts were generically identified by the administrative judge as “the Government of the United States of America.” In March 2018, ECCHR filed an appeal against the decision of the TAR before the Consiglio di Stato (Supreme Administrative Court).

The appeal to the Consiglio di Stato was filed by ECCHR in March 2018 and a decision was delivered in October 2019. The court referred the case back to the regional court still reaffirming the procedural obligations for ECCHR.

ECCHR resumed the case at the TAR, complying with the Consiglio di Stato procedural request. The new hearing is set for 1 July 2020.