Oppose Israeli and US Assassinations in the Middle East

Extrajudicial killings usually occur when governments target individuals via airstrikes, missile strikes, drone strikes or other mechanisms without attention to those individuals’ legal rights. Canada has allies which regularly carry out extrajudicial killings: the US carries them out in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and Israel carries them out against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  In 2004, for example, an Israeli drone strike killed 8 non-militant Palestinians while seeking to kill a member of Hamas without trial. Other than one incident in 2004, Canada has not condemned extrajudicial killings in the Middle East whether by US, UK, Israel or other allies. Canada ought to vocally condemn the use of targeted killings by allies and should consider developing an international ban on targeted killings, whether by drones, airstrikes, or missile strikes.

Overview

An extrajudicial killing – sometimes referred to as “targeted killing” or “assassination” – is defined as “a killing of a person by government authorities or individuals without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process.”[1] An extrajudicial killing may amount to a crime against humanity in specific contexts, and even genocide if they are a part of a collective practice. The right to life is protected under several international treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).  The ICCPR protects the “right to life” and prohibits ”any arbitrary killing.”[2] The UDHR, for its part, guarantees the right to a trial, stating, “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”[3]

Extrajudicial killings usually occur when governments target individuals via airstrikes, missile strikes, drone strikes or other mechanisms without attention to those individuals’ legal rights.  Often carried out as part of a targeted killing campaign against non-state militant actors, such strikes disregard all due process and frequently kill non-militant civilians out of reckless disregard. Canada has allies which regularly carry out extrajudicial killings: the US carries them out in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Israel carries them out against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  In 2004, for example, an Israeli drone strike killed 8 non-militant Palestinians while seeking to kill a member of Hamas without trial.[4] Other than one incident in 2004, Canada has not condemned extrajudicial killings in the Middle East whether by US, UK, Israel or other allies. 

Questions for Federal Candidates

  • Do you believe that even non-state actors have the right to life and judicial due process?
  • Do you believe Canada should oppose extrajudicial killings in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world?
  • Do you believe that Canada is critical enough of allies’ targeted killings?

If elected:

  • Will you work within your caucus to advocate developing an international ban on targeted killings?
  • Will you be critically vocal of allies’ extrajudicial killings in violation of international law?
  • Will you be outspoken for the right to life and judicial due process for all individuals?

Supporting Points

  • International Law – Individual Rights. The UDHR enshrines fair trial rights by the presumption of innocence while the ICCPR further ensures “everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”[5] Israeli extrajudicial executions in Palestinian territories are in violation of the right to life and the right to a fair trial.
  • International Law – International Aggression. In several situations, US and UK targeted killings in the Middle East are in violation of the UN Charter prohibition against unauthorized use of force in sovereign territory.  Notably, US targeted killings in Iraq, Syria and Yemen violate the UN Charter.  US and UK military personnel could be prosecuted for killing civilians and risk complicity in alleged war crimes committed in these countries.[6]
  • Human Rights Organizations Response. Israel has a pattern of extrajudicial executions and a disregard for human life. For example, In 2014 Amnesty International documented 19 unlawful targeted killings by Israel in the West Bank.[7] American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) have filed a lawsuit challenging the US government’s targeting killing of three US citizens by drone strikes in Yemen far away from any armed conflict zone.[8] From 2001 to 2013 there has been at least 8 wedding parties in the Middle East that have been targeted by Western allies drone strikes leaving a high number of civilian casualties.[9]

Recommendations for Canada

  • Canada ought to vocally condemn the use of targeted killings by allies.
  • Canada should consider developing an international ban on targeted killings, whether by drones, airstrikes, or missile strikes.
  • Canada should establish strict guidelines on the use of drones prior to obtaining its own fleet of drones – slated for 2025.

 

 

[1] Extrajudicial Executions. Retrieved from https://trialinternational.org/topics-post/extrajudicial-executions/

[2] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx

[3] Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

[4] Canada Condemns the "Extra-Judicial" Killing Of Sheikh Yassin. (2004). Retrieved from http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=WKGrLda108499842aWKGrLd

[5] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Retrieved from https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx

[6] Lizzie Dearden Home Affairs Correspondent @lizziedearden. (2018, July 16). UK complicit in killing civilians and risks being prosecuted over illegal drone operations, major report suggests. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/drone-strikes-uk-us-illegal-civilian-deaths-war-crimes-dead-appg-report-a8450206.html

[7] Israel/OPT: Pattern of unlawful killings reveals shocking disregard for human life. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/09/israel-opt-pattern-of-unlawful-killings-reveals-shocking-disregard-for-human-life/

[8] ACLU & CCR Lawsuit: American Boy Killed By U.S. Drone Strike. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/video/aclu-ccr-lawsuit-american-boy-killed-us-drone-strike

[9] Engelhardt, T. (2015, June 29). The US Has Bombed at Least Eight Wedding Parties Since 2001. Retrieved from https://www.thenation.com/article/us-has-bombed-least-eight-wedding-parties-2001/

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