The Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (CILD) is a national network of civil society organizations founded in 2014. CILD works to protect and enforce civil rights and freedoms of all, through a combination of legal action, advocacy, and public education. We interviewed Antonella Napolitano, former Communications Manager at CILD,  about the organization’s work and future prospects on the issue of armed drones in Italy.  

How did you organization get involved with the issue of armed drones and why is this important for your organization objectives?

CILD got involved in the work around armed drones in 2016. As an advocacy organization with a strong focus on communication, we felt that we could create value first of all by raising awareness on the issue for our coalition members as well as for the general public, and we did so with a series of articles aimed that explored the topic focusing on accountability, transparency and on the role of Italy, particularly with the base of Sigonella. We also wrote about the case of an Italian citizen that was killed by a drone strike. You can find the articles here (in Italian).

We then connected with Italian and foreign organizations such as Rete Disarmo and ECCHR, supported their work and worked with them, in particular with the production of an international conference that was held in Milan in September 2017.

What would counter as a success in your work on drones for your organization? What is the impact you hope to achieve in the coming five years?

We hope that the role of the base of Sigonella will be clear and that all the necessary information will be soon available to the public. ECCHR has filed requests to access information regarding US drones located at Sigonella according to the Italian Freedom of Information Act – but the opacity of the Italian government (as for many other topics) is staggering. Unfortunately, this topic rarely gets media coverage and public attention: in the coming five years we hope to be able to increase awareness about this issue.

How do you experience working on this issue in Italy? / What is your take on the transparency situation of the Italian government, regarding the use of armed drones and/or complicity?

In Italy there has been little debate; even the case of an Italian killed by a drone strike, Mr. Lo Porto, did not lead to a fruitful and structural debate.

Unfortunately Italy doesn’t have a strong culture of transparency coming from the public administration, though things are slowly changing. In Italy, the introduction of the FOIA in late 2016 can certainly encourage greater transparency both on the role of Sigonella, on the forthcoming positions taken by the country and Parliament, on the regulatory framework of international agreements and on the definition of responsibility for illegal attacks. The lack of transparency and guidelines from the Parliament that refer to the functioning, use and training that Italian pilots receive for missions through armed drones is detrimental to accountability.

It is also very difficult to advance the debate showing how interconnected these topics are, and how relevant their impact can be on citizens, the debate, and studies on armed drones. The aim is to avoid remaining detached from an increasingly important issue, which increasingly affects aspects of society.

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