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13 December 2007 Edition

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Human rights report slams Shannon rendition flights

Noeleen Hartigan-Programmes Director and Fiona Crowley-Research & Legal Manager

Noeleen Hartigan-Programmes Director and Fiona Crowley-Research & Legal Manager

THE 26-County state is failing to live up to its human rights obligations by accepting US diplomatic assurances that flights used for ‘extraordinary rendition’ are not passing through Irish airports, the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has said in a report published this week.
Commissioner Suzanne Egan said assurances from the US authorities that aircraft landing in Ireland are not being used for the transport of detainees are not enough and an inspection regime was needed.
Extraordinary rendition refers to CIA operations that remove terrorist suspects from one jurisdiction for questioning and detention in another.
The IHRC recommends the inspection regime as part of a package of measures, including making the provision of detailed information about each flight, its purpose and its passengers before they land on Irish soil a condition of entry to the state.
It also called for a Garda sub-station at Shannon Airport and, if necessary, legislation to ensure that any aircraft alleged to be involved in extraordinary rendition cannot leave the state before an inspection is carried out.
Amnesty International’s Irish Section said it supports the IHRC’s call for an inspection regime to be introduced promptly.
Amnesty’s Fiona Crowley said the IHRC report reiterated the position taken by Amnesty International, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament that the Irish Government cannot simply rely on ‘assurances’ from the US administration to fulfil its international legal obligations.
“Extraordinary rendition is a propaganda term used to disguise the practice by the US administration of illegally abducting and detaining individuals who have, in many cases, gone on to suffer torture in third countries or been detained in CIA ‘black sites’ around Europe. It is a gross violation of international law and any Irish participation or acquiescence in this practice is a very grave matter.”
She supported the call for an effective inspection regime as a matter of urgency and for all suspect aircraft to be subject to inspections as a matter of course.
“The Government should also implement the recommendations of the Marty Reports, the Council of Europe Inquiry and the European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on ‘extraordinary rendition,” she said.
Crowley added that she hoped the IHRC report would see the Irish Government finally take action “to prevent any future use of Irish airspace and territory to facilitate torture”.

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