Germany and United States Taken to Court Over Drone Attacks

As is reported by some media, relatives of persons killed by U.S. drones are taking the responsible authorities and individuals to court, not only in the United States, but also in Germany, where German assistance in the drone warfare through the command and intelligence-gathering center at Rammstein is in the spotlight. For instance, the son of a Somali citizen killed by a drone in 2012 has filed a legal case in the court of Cologne; relatives of Yemeni drone victims have also filed cases in Germany. The government of Germany is charged with not only witting negligence in this practice of targetted killings, but also with violation of the European Human Rights Convention.

The case of Yemeni plaintiffs was turned down by the court in Cologne, which nonetheless ruled that in principle, Yemenis do have the right to life and deserve to have that respected outside of Germany, if German institutions are involved. The ruling, criticized by numerous legal experts, shows the court ducking the issue, but it implies nevertheless that Germany could be held responsible—however, only if the German role can be documented in concrete detail (which is extremely difficult as long as both the U.S. and German authorities continue stonewalling on the Ramstein issue). At least, the debate about the issue is on.

Besides former U.S. drone pilot Brandon Bryant, who testified just a week ago before the investigation committee of the Bundestag, another former U.S. drone pilot, Mark McCurley, has testified on the intense cooperation among the “Five Eyes” network of Western agencies and the phone- and wire-tapping operations. The data gathered by them provide the basis for composing the blacklists for targetted drone killings. The German government has known all that, but is covering up the role of German agencies, such as its foreign intelligence, BND, in assisting the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and other foreign agencies, in trying to suppress any public debate on the fact that Germany is not only a party that knows, but also one that is complicit in the drone warfare. Since the German Defense Ministry wants to invest in development of European drones, the question is posed, such that even the otherwise government-friendly Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily asked in a commentary on Oct. 19, whether that would lead to the German Chancellor one day giving her okay to targetted killings, as Barack Obama has done already today.

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