UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay has spoken out on a number of issues of concern to Pakistan, including the use of armed drones.
In her statement on the opening day of the 23rd Session of Human Rights Council, the high commissioner said she was “profoundly disturbed at the human rights implications of the use of armed drones in the context of counter terrorism and military operations”.
She also criticised the failure of the US to shut down the Guantanamo detention centre and said that “measures that violate human rights did not uproot terrorism; they nurture it”.
This is the first time the high commissioner has spoken out so strongly on these issues.
Her statement echoes Pakistan’s long-held position that counterterrorism measures like drone attacks are counter-productive.
In his statement, Ambassador Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, reiterated this point and said Pakistan had been making a similar argument for many years.
Ambassador Akram said recently “we have heard statements revising such tactics but we have heard such claims before – only to be negated by contrary actions”. He said it was time to walk the talk.
He went to make a reference to the recent judgment by the Peshawar High Court that stated that the use of drone was a violation of the UN Charter and international human rights and humanitarian law and demanded that those responsible be brought to justice and the affected people be compensated.
The strong statement by the high commissioner for Human Rights is the result of concerted efforts by Pakistan to highlight the issue of extrajudicial and target killings through use of drones at multilateral forums.
In this context, the government invited the high commissioner to visit Pakistan last year. After her visit, the high commissioner raised the issue of drones for the first time in the Human Rights Council.