First Published: 2017-01-11

Britain sets out legal parameters for drone strikes
British government says international law must adapt to 'changing times' to counter terrorism threat posed by new technology.
Middle East Online

Britain's Attorney General, Jeremy Wright

LONDON - Britain on Wednesday set out the legal basis for drone strikes against terror suspects overseas, saying new technology meant some terror attacks were developing too quickly for traditional law enforcement to react.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright, the government's top legal officer, said international law must adapt to "changing times" where social media was used to inspire and train militants within a short space of time.

The government's policy has come under scrutiny since an unprecedented RAF drone attack killed two Britons fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria in August 2015.

In a major speech, Wright will set out how decisions are taken when Britain can act in "self-defence", including assessments of the immediacy, nature and probability of the suspected attack.

"The situation we face today does not always allow for the possibility of using criminal law enforcement measures to stop attacks," he will say, according to extracts of the speech obtained by AFP.

"We are a long way from being able to see troops massing on the horizon. Technology has made it easier for terrorists to carry out attacks. The law has to keep up with the changing times."

The likelihood that there will be other opportunities to act that might "cause less serious collateral injury, loss or damage" is also a factor -- an acknowledgement of potential civilian deaths from drone strikes.

Other issues to be considered include whether the anticipated attack is part of a concerted pattern of continuing armed activity, and its likely scale.

The government must also consider the loss or damage likely to result from failing to act, Wright will tell the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

Former prime minister David Cameron revealed the 2015 RAF drone strikes in a speech to parliament, saying it was Britain's first such action in a country where it was not involved in military operations.

He said that one of the targets, 21-year-old Reyaad Khan, had been planning "barbaric" attacks in Britain on high-profile public events that summer.

British security services and counter-terrorism forces say they have foiled at least 10 attacks in Britain in the past two years.

 

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Haley: Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive behaviour

Jobless Tunisians seek new migration routes to Europe

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe

UN urges de-escalation in Iraq

EU says Israeli settlements illegal under international law

Kurdish independence goes from dream to dust

Female commander more than just poster girl for Raqa victory

Saudi airline flies to Baghdad for first time in 27 years

Wanted Dead: France's approach to IS jihadists

Saudi Arabia to monitor interpretations of prophet's sayings

Italy busts Libyan diesel smugglers

Khamenei vows to 'shred' nuclear deal if US pulls out

Fate of IS fighters in Raqa uncertain

Turkish Red Crescent concerned by Idlib humanitarian ‘drama’

US firm to build solar plants in Gaza

Ghost city Raqa scanned for survivors, bombs

Bahrain accuses Iran of harbouring 160 'terrorists'

Qatar says Gulf crisis hindering fight against IS

Qatar emir calls for talks on visit to Indonesia

Iraq calls on BP to help develop Kirkuk oil

Israeli forces raid Palestinian media offices linked to Hamas

French parliament is set to pass new anti-terror law

Baghdad says mission accomplished in Kurd operation

Israel says no to Palestine talks until Hamas disarms

IS territory down to almost 10% of 2014 ‘caliphate’

Over 3000 civilians flee Raqa under deal with jihadists

Ideology and objectives clash at Deir Ezzor

Erdogan gets Polish backing on Turkey's EU bid