Amnesty International says that the Republic of Ireland is "clearly contravening international law" by allowing its air space and territory to be used to facilitate the US practice of "extraordinary rendition". The group points out that the running of secret CIA prisons for terrorism suspects makes a mockery of international law.
In its latest report the Irish section of Amnesty states that Shannon Airport was used to refuel an aircraft that on the following day was allegedly used to move a man - named as Khaled al-Maqtari - from Iraq to Afghanistan.
The higly respected international human rights organisation says that the case of Khaled al-Maqtari sheds new light on the cruelty and illegality of the CIA programme of secret detentions and forced disappearances. He suffered multiple forms of torture and ill-treatment after his capture in Iraq in 2004. Via Baghdad's infamous Abu Ghraib prison, he was moved to secret US jails in Afghanistan and then to another unknown location, possibly in eastern Europe.
31-year-old Mr. al-Maqtari was eventually freed without charge from US custody in 2006 and returned to Yemen, where he was further detained until May 2007.
In response to the new Amnesty International report a spokesman for the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said that the Irish government is "totally opposed to the practice of extraordinary rendition" and has reiterated its position on numerous occasions.
The government has apparently received some specific assurances from the US authorities, including George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, that no prisoners have been transferred through Irish airports, nor would they be without the Irish government's permission.
However, US aeroplanes - both military and civilian (and including aircraft operated by the CIA) - have been landing and refueling at Shannon Airport for many years, without anyone really knowing who was on board. In the build-up to the US invasion of Iraq thousands of US troops were also ferried through Irish airspace and stopped over at Shannon. There have also been reports of small aircraft - known to belong to or operated by the CIA - landing there.
George W. Bush admitted for the first time in September 2006 that the USA are running secret jails for terrorism suspects, but the practice has gone on for much longer. And only a few days ago Bush vetoed a new US law passed by Congress that was to ban the CIA torture practice known as "waterboarding". (see my entry from March 8th) Thus Bush is personally responsible for the continuation of this cruel and inhumane practice and a promoter of secret CIA torture.
The Emerald Islander