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Human Rights Groups Need Drones

They don't have to be just flying assassins
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2012 12:11 PM CST

(Newser) – Drones have transformed warfare, but they're "not just for firing missiles in Pakistan," anti-genocide activists Andrew Sniderman and Mark Hanis argue in the New York Times. Their radical proposal: Human rights groups should be buying drones, and using them to keep an eye on brutal governments. Imagine using a drone in Syria, for instance. Instead of relying on grainy camera photos, we'd have a high-def, bird's-eye view of the conflict. "A drone would let us count demonstrators, gun barrels, and pools of blood."

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The idea isn't as crazy as it sounds; these days, drones cost just a few hundred thousand dollars, and one environmental group is already using them to monitor Japanese whaling. "This sounds a lot like surveillance, and it would be," Sniderman and Hanis admit. "It would violate Syrian airspace, and perhaps a number of Syrian and international laws." But supporting Nelson Mandela was once illegal, too. "If human rights organizations can spy on evil, they should." Click to read their entire argument. (Read more drones stories.)

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