A new report by the Open Society Justice Initiative shows Ireland is one of the 54 countries which facilitated the CIA’s secret detention, rendition and interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects and innocent people in the years following the 9/11 attacks on New York City.
It shows that Ireland permitted the use of its airspace and airports for CIA rendition operations.
The report looked to high-level reports from the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. The UN expressed concerns about Ireland’s “alleged co-operation” in the CIA rendition program.
Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed that former United States ambassador James Kenny had noted in 2006 that the Irish Government “acted to ensure continued US military transits at Shannon in the face of public criticism.”
Bush administration in the United States also acknowledged that the CIA had transited an estimated 100 prisoners through Ireland. The US government only identified 16 “high value detainees” who were held in Ireland before being sent to Guantanamo Bay.
The Globalising Torture report, carried out by a human rights advocacy group, says the governments of 54 countries aided the United States counterterrorism offensive. This included, but was not limited to, hosting CIA prisons, detaining, interrogating, torturing, abusing individuals, assisting in capturing and the transport of detainees, permitting the use of domestic airspace and secret flights for the transport of detainees.
Amrit Singh, the author of the report, told the Irish Times, “The moral cost of these programs was borne not just by the US but by the 54 other countries it recruited to help.”
The executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, said, “It is undeniable that the Irish Government knew rendition flights transited Ireland and that they knew this breached the legally binding international convention on torture. Yet they did nothing.
“Official Ireland was prepared to ignore our role in kidnap and torture for the sake of maintaining good relations with the United States government.”
According to the report, 136 people were transferred illegally by the CIA. This is the largest list compiled to date. It also holds new information on the handling of Al Qaeda suspects and innocent people during the counterterrorism programme.
The report examined the legal case brought by rendition victims against Jeppesen Dataplan, a company that provided flight planning and logistical support services for CIA extraordinary rendition flights. The company indicated that Ireland allowed use of its airspace and Shannon airport for CIA flights.
Another case involved Richmor Aviation, a company that operated CIA extraordinary rendition flights, shows that at least 13 flights were operated by Richmore, involving US personnel travelling in Ireland between 2002 and 2004. Richmor flights were involved in the extraordinary rendition of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar. It’s suspected that the plane involved in the transport of Abd al Nashiri was refueled at Shannon.
The report states, “By engaging in torture and other abuses associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, the US government violated domestic and international law, thereby diminishing its moral standing and eroding support for its counterterrorism efforts worldwide as these abuses came to light.”
Recommendations to the United States government include that the administration repudiate the CIA’s practice of extraordinary rendition and cease its reliance on “diplomatic assurances” against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
It also called on other governments to refuse to participate in CIA extraordinary rendition and “institute safeguards” to ensure no future operations violate human rights standards.
In December 2012 the European Court of Human Rights found the CIA responsible for the torture of Khalied el-Masri, a German citizen abducted by the agency and taken to Afghanistan in a case of mistaken identification.
Last Friday, an Italian court convicted a CIA station chief and two other US citizens of kidnapping a radical cleric, taken from the streets of Milan in 2003 and sent to Egypt.