A non-profit organization in the UK claims that a confidential Ministry of Defence document allows British troops to engage in illegal bombing without the approval of parliament. A copy of the supposed directive was released during a legal proceeding on Tuesday, according to The Guardian.
“UK embedded pilots could potentially be engaged in strike operations in areas beyond those approved by parliament, and potentially areas such as Pakistan and Yemen, where the US drone program has come under significant criticism for being unlawful,” Reprieve Project Lead for Extrajudicial Killings Jennifer Gibson explained to the outlet.
Furthermore, the document allegedly permits US troops assigned in the UK to operate outside UK rules of engagement – a set of policies followed by British armed forces.
“The US operates under different interpretations of the law. This raises concerns that UK embedded pilots may be involved in supporting and/or carrying out unlawful strikes,” Gibson said.
‘Carrying Out Unlawful Activity’
Activist Ceri Gibbons appealed for the release of an unredacted version of the UK “targeting policy.”
She claims that US troops embedded in UK military units may be carrying out unlawful activities using UK weapons and equipment.
“It is imperative – both for the full functioning of democracy and for the protection of military men and women who may be held criminally liable for any unlawful acts they commit – that those portions of the JSP900 which deal with UK partner assistance and the use of UK territory be disclosed,” she said.
Minister of Defence Response
According to an article published by The Guardian, the Minister of Defence emphasized that UK armed personnel are obliged to follow existing rules of engagement.
However, he explained that full disclosure of the withheld information “would be damaging to the far broader capability, effectiveness, and security of British forces.”