Marking the eighth anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo Bay detention centre Amnesty International Ireland has criticised the Government’s lack of progress in carrying out a promised review of the law on searching suspected renditions flights. However the organisation welcomed again the decision last September to accept two former Guantánamo detainees.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said: “In November 2008 the Government announced it was setting up a Cabinet committee to review the law and ensure Gardaí had the power to board and search suspected rendition flights. At the time the Government said this was an indication that it was, “taking human rights seriously”.
“Over a year later however there is still no sign of this review and the committee has only met twice. Last month activists at Shannon announced that five planes previously connected to renditions flights had used Shannon Airport since March 2009, some of them on multiple occasions. There is a widespread belief that President Obama ended the practice of renditions. This is not the case. The CIA is still permitted to carry out rendition operations.
“The issue of Ireland’s role in rendition flights, like Guantánamo, has not gone away. In the cases of four men, Abu Omar, Khaled al Maqtari, Khaled el Masri and Binyam Mohamed CIA agents used Shannon Airport as a launching pad for rendition operations.
“The Taoiseach must announce when the Cabinet review will finally take place. He must ensure that it is comprehensive and commit to making the findings public.”
The organisation also renewed its call on US President Barack Obama to close Guantánamo. Last January President Obama signed an executive order committing his administration to closing the detention facility “no later than a year from the date of this order” but in November he admitted the US would not meet this deadline.
“Guantánamo is the most visible symbol of a system of prisons, secret detention sites and renditions networks that made possible the illegal kidnapping and imprisonment of hundreds of people,” said Mr O’Gorman.
“The closure of Guantánamo would mark a clean break with the previous administration. Those prisoners still held there should be given a fair, independent and impartial trial or released.”
Amnesty International Ireland again highlighted the valuable contribution Ireland made to closing Guantánamo last year by accepting two cleared detainees for resettlement.
“Accepting those two men was a practical contribution by the Irish Government to the shutting down of Guantánamo. We would hope that other countries, particularly EU member states, will follow Ireland’s example in the year to come,” said Mr O’Gorman.