Shannonwatch Recommendations to the Universal Periodic Review of Ireland's Human Rights Record

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a United Nations process whereby the domestic human rights records of all 192 Member States are reviewed every four years. Ireland’s first review under UPR will take place on 6 October 2011. It will be the first time that Ireland’s human rights record is reviewed by other UN Member States, rather than expert groups such as the UN Treaty Monitoring Bodies. [For more information on the UPR see www.upr-info.org].

Shannonwatch have submitted a report to the UPR process which addresses two main areas of concern. These are Ireland’s role in the U.S. rendition programme and the transit of munitions, weapons and armed soldiers through Irish airspace and territory. In addition to Ireland’s human rights obligations, it recognises the State’s responsibilities as outlined in Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international humanitarian law, and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.

In relation to renditions, the submission recommends the establishment of a regime for the identification, control and inspection of suspicious flights, and for a full public inquiry into the use of Irish territory, and in particular Shannon airport, in renditions.

Shannonwatch also call for procedures to be put in place to ensure that troops, weapons,
munitions and associated equipment being transited through Irish territory and airspace
are not destined for countries where they could be implicated in human rights violations
and war crimes.

The specific recommendations made by Shannonwatch are

  1. The Irish government should review and if necessary strengthen legislation governing the search and inspection of suspected rendition flights to ensure that it’s civil and police authorities have the necessary power in this regard.
  2. The Irish government should establish a robust and transparent system for identifying aircraft, operators and crews using Irish territory or airports to commit or assist abuses of human rights, including renditions. This would include procedures so that requests for landing authorisation by foreign aircraft, other than regularly scheduled commercial flights, require the provision of sufficient information to allow effective monitoring of all persons on board, the purpose of the flight, and its final destination.
  3. The Irish government should establish an independent and impartial inquiry into the use of Irish territory, and in particular Shannon airport, in renditions. The outcome of this review should be made public.
  4. Procedures should be put in place to ensure that troops, weapons, munitions and associated equipment being transited through Irish territory and airspace are not destined for countries where they could be used to commit human rights violations and war crimes. These include but are not restricted to embargoed countries. Applicants for an exemption under the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Order should be required to provide sufficient information to allow effective monitoring of transited weapons and munitions, including details of all munitions on board the aircraft and its final destination.
  5. The Irish government should review and if necessary strengthen legislation to ensure that it’s civil and police authorities have the necessary power to inspect any aircraft suspected to be carrying munitions or war.

The full submission is available here.

The Irish Government is also required to make a National Report to the UPR. As part of its consultation process with all relevant stakeholders, Shannonwatch have presented their recommendations to the government. It is hoped that the issues and recommendations raised will be key elements of their National Report.

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