Because of a broken civilian casualty compensation system, the U.S. military never made a payment to Yemeni drone strike survivor Adel Al Manthari.
“Congress cut DoD a check for millions to pay for exactly this type of scenario,” said Jennifer Gibson, a human rights lawyer and project lead on extrajudicial killing at Reprieve, an international human rights organization representing Al Manthari. “DoD’s refusal to spend even a penny of it — on Adel or any of the thousands of civilians harmed by U.S. drones — sends the message that they simply don’t care about accountability.”
In cases like Al Manthari’s, experts said that compensation is hampered by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s resistance to reassessing past allegations of civilian harm.
“It was the U.S.’s Hellfire missile that cost Adel his family and his health,” Gibson said. “It should be the U.S. that pays for the treatment to save his legs. That’s what responsible governments do. They own up to their mistakes.”
“The watchwords of the U.S. drone program,” said Gibson, “have consistently been ‘no accountability, no apology, no compensation,’ and a radical rethink is needed.”
Until then, victims like Al Manthari will need to rely on fundraising websites and the kindness of strangers to stay alive, as the Pentagon boasts about accountability while trafficking in secrecy and impunity.