NEW YORK — An independent U.N. human rights researcher on Thursday announced plans to launch an investigation into the use of drone attacks and other targeted assassinations by the United States and other governments that result in civilian deaths or injuries.
Ben Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, said in a Harvard University law school speech that he and South African Christof Heyns, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, will establish an investigative unit early next year in Geneva to probe drone attacks.
Emmerson said that his decision to investigate drone attacks and other targeted killings reflects frustration with the Obama administration’s unwillingness to provide public information on such covert strikes. “The Obama administration continues to formally adopt the position that it will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the drone program. . . . In reality, the administration is holding its finger in the dam of public accountability,” he said according to a prepared copy of the speech.