Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Sana’a who had two relatives killed in a 2012 drone strike, had his evidence heard in a Cologne court today. He brought the case against Germany – represented by international human rights charity Reprieve and its local partner the European Center for Human Rights (ECCHR) – following revelations that Ramstein air base is used by the US and crucial to facilitating American drone strikes in Yemen.
Although the court ruled against Mr bin Ali Jaber in today’s hearing, it gave him immediate permission to appeal the decision, while the judges agreed with his assertion that it is ‘plausible’ Ramstein air base is crucial in facilitating drone strikes in Yemen.
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.
Kat Craig, Reprieve legal director which represents Mr bin Ali Jaber, said: “Without Germany – and other Western allies – the U.S. could not fly the drones that kill innocent civilians like my client Faisal’s family in Yemen. For too long, the drone programme has been allowed to operate in the shadows – away from judicial and public scrutiny. Whilst we may have lost today, this hearing was an important step in the direction of greater transparency and accountability for the US and its allies in its illegal and immoral drone programme. We may not yet have achieved the end to Germany’s role in the illegal U.S. drone war in Yemen, but this simply means that we must redouble our efforts to support our clients in their attempts to end the death and suffering that drones bring in Yemen.”
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, said: “I had hoped that today the Court would restore Yemen’s faith in the West’s commitment to the rule of law, and that the German government would put a stop to its role in these illegal and immoral operations. It is shameful that they won’t even admit to the part they play in killing innocent civilians and terrorising entire communities. But we will not give up: it is – quite simply – a matter of life or death for us. I am of course disappointed by the outcome today, but remain grateful to the court for hearing my case and am pleased that they have encouraged me to appeal. This is just the beginning of our efforts and I will continue to place my faith in the justice system and the rule of law, to find a peaceful and sustainable way to keep myself and my family safe, and end the devastation brought to my country by drones.”