A COMPLAINT has been filed with the government against telecoms company BT over its apparent facilitation of illegal, covert drone strikes carried out by the US.
Reprieve reports that BT has contracted with the US government to supply key communications infrastructure between a US military base in the UK, and Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the covert centre from which armed drones carry out lethal missions over Yemen.
The contract, valued at around $23m, requires BT to provide services between RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire and Camp Lemonnier until 2017.
When asked by Reprieve for an explanation of the contract and of the company’s risk assessment procedures for contracts related to US counter-terrorism, BT Legal said it ‘does not disclose contractual matters’.
Reprieve is calling upon the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines to investigate BT’s possible contribution to the gross violations of international law and human rights that the use of drones in non-war zones entails.
Reprieve represents a number of individuals who have lost relatives in drone strikes or are affected by the ongoing use of drones in Yemen.
Exposed is the severity of the trauma inflicted upon communities – one client explained how following a strike, ‘villagers’ unease with drones and planes turned to terror. We all lived in a state of fear for months.’
The National Contact Point will now invite submissions from BT and issue an Initial Assessment within three months.
Several of BT’s key shareholders have been notified of the complaint and are being called on to seek information from the company.
Catherine Gilfedder, Reprieve’s Corporate Social Responsibility Advocate, said: ‘The US’ secretive and illegal campaign of drone strikes in Yemen is killing civilians and traumatising communities, yet it remains largely hidden from the eyes of the world.
‘BT needs to give a clear answer on whether or not they are involved in facilitating this deadly programme.
‘Its shareholders must demand this if their own responsible reputations are to be maintained.’