U.N. experts condemn drone strikes in Yemen

Independent human rights experts with the U.N. voiced their concerns on Thursday about recent lethal drone airstrikes that were allegedly conducted by the U.S.

According to Yemen security officials, 16 civilians were killed and at least 10 were injured when two separate wedding processions were hit by drone attacks on December 12 in Al-Baida Governorate. Officials cited by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the victims were mistakenly identified as Al-Qaida members.

"If armed drones are to be used, states must adhere to international humanitarian law, and should disclose the legal basis for their operational responsibility and criteria for targeting," Christof Heyns, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said.

Heyns called on the U.S. and Yemen to disclose whether they were responsible and more information about the attack, including targeting standards, the number of civilians killed and whether or not compensation will be provided for the victims' families.

"Yemen cannot consent to violations of the right to life of people in its territory," Heyns said.

Juan Méndez, the special rapporteur on torture, expressed concern about the legitimacy of the drone airstrikes.

"A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if, as in this case, it results in serious physical or mental pain and suffering for the innocent victims," Méndez said.