Amnesty: Pledge on renditions broken

HUMAN rights leaders have accused the Government of reneging on a pledge for more vigilant checks of suspected US rendition flights at Shannon airport.

Reviewing US President Barack Obama’s 100 first days in office, Amnesty International said Ireland had done little on the issue of rendition flights since his election last November.

Amnesty International Ireland was critical of the failure to boost Garda powers to search suspected flights at the airport since the commitment was made.

“From an Irish point of view, it is worrying that the US seems set on continuing to use extraordinary rendition. We have not seen any movement from the Irish Government on its pledge in November of last year to review and toughen up legislation to allow gardaí to search suspected rendition flights at Shannon,” said the rights group’s executive director Colm O’Gorman.

The Green Party, agreeing a programme for government, pushed for greater checks of aircraft to “ensure rendition does not occur in this state”.

Last November, the party’s Ciarán Cuffe announced plans to review the law on checking planes saying the move was a “sea change” in government policy.

A Cabinet committee of ministers on aspects of international human rights was set up. It included Green Party ministers Eamon Ryan and John Gormley, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and Transport Minister Noel Dempsey.

Amnesty Ireland said yesterday almost nothing had been done since the human rights pledge was made after Mr Obama’s election.

“But when the Government established the Cabinet Committee on Aspects of International Human Rights it was strongly welcomed by Amnesty because we expected to see action. Six months on and there has been little progress on dealing with the ongoing legacy of renditions for Ireland,” added Mr O’Gorman.

A government spokesman yesterday said ministers were still working on the issue. It had been agreed to accept Guantanamo detainees, he said, adding that the Government had expressed its “trenchant opposition” to the US on rendition.

Meanwhile, Amnesty has described Mr Obama’s first 100 days when it comes to counter terrorism policies as “promises for change with only limited action”.

Its analysis of the new US administration’s performance found that just one Guantanamo detainee had been released.

None of the remaining 240 detainees had been charged and at least three dozen people believed to have been held in secret US detention in centres were still missing, it said.

“No one has been brought to justice for torture or enforced disappearance — both crimes under international law — committed in the CIA programme and another 500 prisoners remain in limbo at the US air base in Bagram, Afghanistan,” said Mr O’Gorman.


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