09 May 2006

UN torture expert calls for Shannon search of planes


09/05/2006 - 19:42:44

The Irish Government must search US planes landing at Shannon Airport to establish whether they are carrying terrorist suspects, an United Nations expert on torture said tonight.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups claim the CIA is ferrying prisoners through the Mid-West hub en route to interrogation camps in other countries.

The Government said it has received repeated assurances from US authorities that nothing untoward was taking place on US aircraft stopping to refuel in Shannon.

But UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak today said in Dublin: “I think there is so much evidence that flights have also been used for rendition purposes so I would say that for the future there should be preventive measures to search these planes to make sure that they are not used for rendition purposes.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern recently called on anybody with any credible evidence of wrongdoing on the issue to contact the gardaí.

Mr Nowak was speaking at an international law seminar in Dublin on the issue of extraordinary rendition flights organised by Amnesty International and the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway.

A survey in March by Amnesty International’s Irish Section found three out of four respondents in Ireland share the organisation’s concerns about extraordinary rendition flights.

The purpose of today’s seminar was to assemble key international human rights experts and arrive at expert conclusions on this aspect of states’ duties in the context of extraordinary renditions.

Other speakers included Mona Rishmawi, juridical adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Roisin Pillay, legal officer for Europe at the International Commission of Jurists.

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