Irish Government Fails Once Again to Acknowledge Ireland's Role in Renditions

Shannonwatch is disappointed, but not surprised, that the Irish Government has missed yet another opportunity to address violations of human rights at Shannon Airport, given that they are knowingly in breach of human rights there. Ireland’s National Report under the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review process which was published this week fails to even mention the repeated use of Shannon by U.S. rendition aircraft and their crews, or the ongoing movement of troops and weapons through the airport and Irish airspace without investigation of their possible involvement in war crimes. Complicity in torture, which has been happening at Shannon, is a serious breach of human rights and of the UN Convention Against Torture.

Under the UPR process the human rights records of all 192 UN Member States are reviewed every four years. Ireland's record will be reviewed for the first time in October of this year, and as a result the government has now submitted its blinkered report to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

A Shannonwatch spokesperson said "The government's report claims that the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms has always been a cornerstone of Irish foreign policy. The failure to even acknowledge in the report that Shannon has been used to facilitate kidnapping and torture seriously undermines this claim. So too does the continuous movement of U.S. troops and weapons through Shannon. By engaging in wars of occupation, first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, these troops are contributing to widespread suffering, instability, corruption and human rights abuse. Ireland is also helping to deny the people living in these sovereign states the right to determine their own futures."

A wikileaks cable released earlier this year showed that former Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern was quite convinced that rendition planes had used Shannon. The UN Torture Committee has criticised Ireland on renditions. So too have the Irish Human Rights Commission, the Council of Europe and the European Parilament. "While all the advice and evidence points to the need to investigate and end human rights abuse at Shannon, the Fine Gael/Labour government continue to turn a blind eye" said Shannonwatch. "Are human rights taking second place to political and economic interests, or have they given in to pressure from the U.S. to remain silent?"

"It is also disappointing to note that the Irish Human Rights Commission which has previously called for the establishment of a monitoring and inspection regime as a matter of urgency has failed to even mention the issue of renditions in their own submission to the UPR process."

Shannonwatch have made their own submission to the UPR process in which they recommend 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. They have also called 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.

Shannonwatch's submission to the UPR process is at http://www.shannonwatch.org/sites/shannonwatch.org/files/docs/UPR_Report....

The Irish government's UPR report is available at http://www.upr.ie/Clients/CEGA/UPRWeb.nsf/page/reports-en.

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