German court set to consider evidence from Yemeni drone victim for first time

Berlin, Germany (REP) – A court in Germany is set to take evidence from a Yemeni victim of the USA’s secret drone programme – following revelations that military bases on German soil play a key role in the strikes.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Sana’a who lost two relatives to a 2012 drone strike, has won the right to have his evidence heard as part of a constitutional claim filed in Germany.

The claim, filed in October last year by international human rights organisation Reprieve and its local partner, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), seeks measures by the German administration to stop the use of German territory for illegal actions by the U.S. in Yemen. They argue that the German government is acting in breach of the country’s constitution by allowing the U.S. to use its Ramstein air base for illegal drone attacks abroad.

Mr Jaber lost his brother-in-law Salim, a preacher, and his nephew Waleed, a local police officer, to a US drone strike which hit the village of Khashamir on 29 August 2012. Salim often spoke out against extremism, and had used a sermon just days before he was killed to urge those present to reject Al Qaeda.

A Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) prepares for takeoff in Afghanistan. Image Source: UK Royal Air Force, Corporal Steve Follows

A Reaper MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) prepares for takeoff in Afghanistan.
Image Source: UK Royal Air Force, Corporal Steve Follows

The case represents the first time that the crucial role of Ramstein in facilitating the US drones programme will have been challenged in court. Earlier this month, President Obama acknowledged that a US drone had killed an Italian and US citizen held in Pakistan, and announced an independent investigation into the strike. Following this, a group of human rights organisations – including Reprieve, ECCHR, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – wrote to the President urging him to do the same for all other US drone strikes in which civilians have been killed.

Reporting originated with the Reprieve network, which focuses solely on human rights violations.