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UN urges US to report civilian deaths

ISLAMABAD — A UN expert on Friday called on the United States to reveal the number of civilians it believes have been killed by American drone strikes targeting Islamist militants.

Ben Emmerson, UN special rapporteur, said that preliminary information gathered for a new report indicated more than 450 civilians may have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, but more work needs to be done to confirm the figures.

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The United States provides very little public information about its drone program, especially in Pakistan and Yemen, where the CIA is involved in the attacks. “The single greatest obstacle to an evaluation of the civilian impact of drone strikes is lack of transparency, which makes it extremely difficult to assess claims of precision targeting objectively,” said the report, which was released Friday. The lack of transparency “creates an accountability vacuum and affects the ability of victims to seek redress.”

The United States and other countries that use drones, such as Israel and the United Kingdom, have an obligation to investigate reported civilian casualties and clarify their legal justifications for the attacks, the report said.

The involvement of the CIA in the US drone programs in Pakistan and Yemen “has created an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency,” the report said.

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