Gardai Claim No Breaches of International or National Law at Shannon

In March 2011 Shannonwatch called on An Garda Síochána to review a large body of information which they presented in relation to suspect CIA and US military flights through Shannon Airport. They also called on them to provide a comprehensive report on the actions that will be taken to ensure Ireland complies with its international legal obligations. The information was delivered in two wheelbarrows to the Garda Station in Shannon on 18th March 2011.

On 14th August 2012, after seventeen months, Shannonwatch finally received a response from the Gardai. It was a brief half-page letter that simply said “No evidence has been uncovered by the Gardai which indicate [sic] any alleged breach of Irish & International laws resulting from the transit of armed U.S. troops & CIA associated aircraft in connection with wars and military aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and in connection with unlawful detention and torture of prisoners at Guantanamo prison and elsewhere".

John Lannon, spokesperson for Shannonwatch said "This response seems to ignore a large body of evidence, much of which already exists in the public domain. We provided dates and times on which known and suspected rendition aircraft landed at Shannon Airport. Amnesty International have also brought flight logs to the attention of the Irish Government. These logs showing that planes used by the CIA for renditions landed at the airport. Council of Europe and European Parliament inquiries have also identified Shannon Airport as a stopover point in the US renditions programme.”

"This all indicates alleged breaches of Irish and international laws at Shannon, despite what the Gardai claim." said Mr. Lannon.

"Perhaps it is not surprising that the Gardai would say they have uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing at Shannon" said the Shannonwatch spokesperson. "They have consistently failed to investigate complaints made when suspect aircraft were at the airport. On one occasion on 18th June 2008 they even said that a "policy decision" had been made that there were no grounds to search the aircraft in question.”

“Such lack of willingness to search CIA-linked and military aircraft at Shannon seems to be at odds with the State’s obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture which was ratified through the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention against Torture) Act 2000. Article 4 of the Convention makes specific reference to acts by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture".

“Turning a blind eye to the presence of known or suspected rendition aircraft at Shannon could be seen as complicity or participation in torture.”

Shannonwatch are concerned that the Garda response to their March 2011 submission calls into question if and how the UN Convention Against Torture is being implemented in Ireland. "It begs the question, have the Gardai been instructed to ensure that CIA and US military aircraft have had carte blanche to use Shannon Airport in any way they choose, even if it violates international and Irish law?" said John Lannon.

Shannonwatch are committed to ensuring accountability for all involvement of the Irish State in human rights abuse and war crimes. This not only covers rendition planes; it also extends to the ongoing daily presence of US military aircraft at Shannon Airport.


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