Summary: Court dismisses case against German government over alleged complicity in drone attacks

27th May 2015– The Administrative Court of Cologne has dismissed the claim brought against the German government by three Yemeni citizens concerning the use of US military base Ramstein in drone attacks. The claimants were represented by SRT grantees ECCHR and Reprieve, who are now considering lodging an appeal.

Faisal bin Ali Jaber brought the claim along with his relatives Ahmed Saeed bin Ali Jaber and Khaled Mohmed Naser bin Ali Jaber. The claimants survived a drone strike in Yemen in August 2012 in which they allege Ramstein played a central role (as the site of a satellite relay station connecting drone operators in the US with drones in targeted countries including Yemen – a claim which was supported by experts including a drone operator). Two of their relatives died in the attack and several others have suffered ongoing trauma.

The court accepted the argument that Germany had an obligation to protect lives and declared the lawsuit admissible. Furthermore the judge also acknowledged it was “plausible” that Ramstein had been used to carry out drone strikes, but said there were no sufficient legal grounds on which to prevent the US from using the base. However she allowed the claimants the opportunity to appeal the decision.

ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck said after the hearing, “Today’s decision allows the German government to continue to play the innocent […] With this strategy the government cannot and will not be able to meet its obligation to prevent human rights violations committed by the USA via German territory.”

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. But we will not give up: it is – quite simply – a matter of life or death for us.”

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