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20:52 01.07.2016(updated 00:05 02.07.2016)
After being pressured for years to release data related to drone-related casualties, US President Barack Obama issued a report on Friday which claims only 116 civilians have been mistakenly killed by since he took office. The figures are markedly lower than those presented by human rights groups.
The report claims that since 2009, there have been between 64 and 116 civilians killed in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and North Africa.
“Today’s casualty data release and issuance of the executive order is a concrete step in the right direction, but more information is still needed for the public to meaningfully evaluate the lawfulness and effectiveness of the targeted killing program,” Human Rights First’s Rita Siemion said in a statement.
The report comes as part of an executive order that urges the US to act to “reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties” and also directs that the US acknowledge its responsibility for civilian deaths and offer condolences and compensation.
The White House has vowed to release civilian casualties data since March, when Lisa Monaco, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, pledged to release an “assessment of combatant and non-combatant casualties.”
Critics have pointed out that any figures released are likely to be lower than have been reported by investigators on the ground. As The Intercept reported, “the military posthumously labels its unknown drone victims as ‘Enemies Killed in Action,’ unless there is evidence that proves the victim was not a ‘combatant.'”
Research conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that over “3,000 people, including nearly 500 civilians, have been killed by drones” under the Obama administration.
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