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.

Der Fall

Das ECCHR hat gemäß des italienischen Informationsfreiheitsgesetzes (Freedom of Information Act) – das erst im Dezember 2016 verabschiedet wurde – Anträge auf Zugang zu Informationen über US-Drohnen, die sich in Sigonella befinden, gestellt. Bisher haben die italienischen Behörden nur unzureichende Informationen mitgeteilt. Im Juli 2017 hat das ECCHR daher eine Klage beim Verwaltungsgericht in Rom eingereicht, um Zugang zu den Dokumenten zu erhalten. Im Dezember 2017 wies das Gericht in Rom die Beschwerde aus verfahrenstechnischen Gründen zurück. Im März 2018 hat das ECCHR beim Obersten Verwaltungsgericht von Italien (Consiglio di Stato) Berufung dagegen eingelegt.

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.

Grundlagen

Fragen und Antworten zur Klage in Italien.

The Sigonella airbase 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 n. 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 par. 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 – 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 is expected to be delivered within months. That court could either reverse the TAR decision and affirm that the complaint was admissible and should be considered on its merits or confirm the TAR decision holding that, because of the failure to notify the complaint to other counterparts (namely "the Government of the United States of America"), the complaint was inadmissible. In the latter case, ECCHR could either file another complaint and notify potential counterparts or decide to bring the issue to the European Court of Human Rights.