In 2013, President Obama promised that before any U.S. drone strike, “there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” Death by Drone questions whether he has kept that promise.
The report casts serious doubt on whether the United States’ “near-certainty” standard is being met on the ground, and whether the U.S. is complying with international law. The nine case studies documented in this report provide credible evidence that U.S. airstrikes have killed and injured Yemeni civilians. These incidents include a drone strike that killed 12 people, including a pregnant woman and three children, and another in which the U.S. struck a house containing 19 people, including women and children.
The U.S. has not officially acknowledged any of these strikes or the resulting civilian casualties. None of the victims are aware of any investigation into the strikes, and in most cases did not receive meaningful compensation. Many survivors argue that the strikes are counterproductive, pushing Yemenis into the arms of al-Qaeda.
Despite the U.S. government’s best efforts to keep the strikes secret, this report exposes the suffering of civilians directly affected by U.S. airstrikes: innocent people burned alive, parents who saw their children killed, families that lost breadwinners, and traumatized communities that continue to live under the threat of drones. Based on the testimonies of eyewitnesses and survivors, this report provides a first-hand, in-depth account of civilian harm caused by U.S. airstrikes.