Ireland colluded in CIA rendition flights, report finds


The Government colluded in illegal detention and alleged torture by failing to investigate claims that Shannon Airport was used for so-called rendition flights, an international inquiry has found.

The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly headed by Swiss politician Dick Marty found that Ireland was complicit by accepting diplomatic assurances from the US that Shannon was not used by covert CIA planes for transferring the prisoners.

The global spider's web of secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers. Click on image for large version.
The global spider's web of secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers. Click on image for large version.

The report found that prisoners were illegally captured and flown around North Africa and Europe to centres of detention and sometimes tortured.

Mr Marty said that an unspecified number of people, "deemed to be members or accomplices of terrorist movements, were arbitrarily and unlawfully arrested and/or detained and transported under the supervision of services acting in the name, or on behalf, of the American authorities".

"These incidents took place in airports and in European airspace, and were made possible either by seriously negligent monitoring or by the more or less active participation of one or more states".

"There has clearly been a critical deviation away from notions of justice in the rendition programme ... The absence of human rights guarantees and the introduction of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' have led ... to detainees being subjected to torture."

Ireland colluded in this by invoking the "principle of trust" when pushed to investigate claims that US planes were using Shannon to facilitate the transfer of prisoners, the report found.

Today's report incorporated a Council of Europe legal opinion which found that under the Chicago Convention, states have were obliged under international law to search planes suspected of being involved in the violation of human rights.

In the report's explanatory memorandum Mr Marty says states "could be held responsible for collusion - active or passive (in the sense of having tolerated or having been negligent in fulfilling the duty to supervise) - involving secret detention and unlawful inter-state transfers".

Mr Marty named 14 European countries, including Ireland, which colluded in a "global spider's web" of secret CIA prisons and renditions.

Shannon is identified as a "stop-over point" for flights on routes from Washington to Rabat in Morocco, Egyptian capital, Cairo and Larnaca in Cyprus.

Stop-overs were defined as: "points at which aircraft land to refuel, mostly on the way home [from rendition operations]".

Larnaca was categorised as a staging point "where operations are often launched".

Rabat and Cairo were identified as a "detainee transfer / drop-off point". These were defined as" "places visited often, where flights tend to stop for just short periods, mostly far off the obvious route - either their location is close to a site of a known detention facility or a prima faciecase can be made to indicate a detention facility in their vicinity)".

Amnesty International has alleged that between September 2001 and September 2005, Shannon was used on 50 occasions by CIA planes disguised as commercial airlines.

Washington has acknowledged the existence of rendition flights but Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice issued public assurances that Ireland was not involved.

The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern accepted these, saying there was therefore no need to inspect suspect flights.

Mr Marty said the extent of public suspicions "not only justify, but require that member States finally decide to open serious inquiries on the extent to which they were directly or indirectly implicated."