MPs to question use of drones amid concerns over their ethics
Examination of the use of armed drones could help lift lid on 'America's secret war'
BRITISH MPS are to investigate the use of drones in modern warfare, in a move that could shed light on the US policy of using unmanned ariel vehicles, or UAVs, to kill terror suspects.
The Times reports that the Commons Defence Select Committee is to look at the deployment of UAVs as part of its wider inquiry into the Afghan campaign. The RAF is set to double its fleet of armed Reaper drones in Afghanistan to ten and is to shift the base from which they are operated from the US to Britain.
The news comes a month after the creation of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones, led by Tom Watson and Zac Goldsmith, which has called for a debate on the ethics of drones in modern warfare.
In an early day motion last month, Watson said the UK was "sharing information with other states for the purposes of targeted killings" and called for discussion over "the human rights questions which arise from the direct and indirect use of drones by the UK".
The CIA has been using drones to kill terror suspects in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, explains the Times. "The programme, dubbed 'America's secret war', is credited with weakening al-Qaeda but causing hundreds of civilian casualties and fuelling a hatred of the West," the paper notes.
There are concerns about the legality of the strikes, which frequently take place away from conflict zones. "Washington argues that under the doctrine of self-defence following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it has authority to hunt any al-Qaeda or Taliban militant anywhere in the world.”
Britain, the US and Israel are, so far, the only countries to have used armed drones. A UAV was used to assassinate the Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari, setting off the current conflict in Gaza.
James Arbuthnot, the Conservative chairman of the Defence Committee, said: "The issues that are concerning people are the distance between the person who is controlling that platform and the death that results from it."