Clinton told of Ireland's human rights failings

 

THE DIRECTOR of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has asked US officials to question the Irish Government about its human rights record.

Mark Kelly, an international human rights lawyer who lectures on human rights at UCD, met with the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, as a member of a delegation from the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO) on Thursday.

Mr Kelly gave Ms Clinton a file on what the ICCL regards as Ireland’s failure to respect the Belfast Agreement by underfunding the Irish Human Rights Commission, and by asking the Garda Síochána to investigate claims of misconduct against itself.

The ICCL further objects to the Government’s failure to respond to requests from the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva about safeguards against “extraordinary rendition”, the practice of kidnapping suspected extremists, transporting them across international boundaries and holding them incognito.

The ICCL wants the state department to raise these issues bilaterally with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and in Geneva. Mr Kelly intended to make the same presentation to Samantha Power, President Barack Obama’s Irish-born point person on human rights, yesterday.

Next year, Ireland is due to undergo its first Universal Periodic Review before the United Nations in Geneva.

“That is a political peer review process in which the other countries can ask Ireland questions about its human rights record,” Mr Kelly explained.

“We are asking the US to consider, through its ambassador in Geneva, asking some specific questions of Ireland.”

Mr Kelly said he was careful to frame his appeal “in terms of praising Ireland’s international human rights record”, in particular its “efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals and its work on democratic governance in some of the poorest African countries”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs “does a very good job on the export side of the human rights equation”, Mr Kelly said. “The difficulties lie on the import side; in importing human rights standards.”

He said he did not know whether the US continued to practise extraordinary rendition. “If you take an Irish solution to an Irish problem and simply don’t do anything about it, if you don’t look for evidence, there’s a very good chance you won’t find it,” he said.

Founded two years ago, the INCLO network allows members to exchange ideas and to gain access to decision-makers such as Ms Clinton.