Ireland and Obama's Assassination Policy

The man of peace, Barack Obama, who oversees a global assassination programme

A report in the Irish Times of 19th June highlights a UN call on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating rather than capturing al-Qaeda or Taliban suspects. The policy which is being implemented using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drone, is also responsible for a lot of innocent civilian lives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

What the Irish Times report doesn't point out is that this may be a lot closer to home that most of us in Ireland realise. There is no disclosure of who or what goes through Shannon on US military aircraft, and no political interest in inspecting the aircraft. We may well be part of Obama's policy of assassination,  just as we were part of Bush's policy of rendition.

The Irish Times report notes that Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, urged Washington to clarify the basis under international law of the policy of assassination. He did this in a report issued to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Heyns asked the United States to lay out the legal basis and accountability procedures for the use of armed drones. He also asked the U.S. to publish figures on the number of civilians killed in drone strikes against suspected terror leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

"Disclosure of these killings is critical to ensure accountability, justice and reparation for victims or their families," according to Heyns' report.

"The (US) government should clarify the procedures in place to ensure that any targeted killing complies with international humanitarian law and human rights and indicate the measures or strategies applied to prevent casualties, as well as the measures in place to provide prompt, thorough, effective and independent public investigation of alleged violations."

The US military has conducted drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Ireland has probably assisted them. And workers at Shannon Airport may have watched as aircraft carrying drone "coffins" are refuelled or serviced,

Drones break down into six pieces that are transported in huge crates called coffins. A coffin contains the fuselage, wings, tail surfaces, landing gear, propulsion system and payload/avionics bays for a UAV.

How many of these "coffins" have passed through Shannon?

There is no inspections procedure in place at Shannon to ensure that these killer drones are not being transported through. Successive Irish governments have denied complicity in renditions. In a few years time we will probably listen to the same politicians saying that there were no drones being transported through Shannon.

By refusing to inspect aircraft at Shannon the Irish government are as guilty of murder and human rights abuse as the ones ordering the deployment of the killer drones.

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