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Renditions: New report accuses governments of complicity in 'torture flights'

Amnesty International has today (24 June) accused European governments, including Ireland and the UK, of complicity and inaction over US-led rendition and secret detention, as it published a new report on European renditions and a ‘Six-point Plan’ for their prevention.

Amnesty International’s report, 'State of denial: Europe’s role in rendition and secret detention', published today, shed further light on the extent of Europe’s role in the US-led rendition and secret detention programmes. It also exposes the continuing failure of European states, including Ireland, to admit or investigate violations carried out by their nationals or on their territory.

“European governments are in a state of denial and have been sidestepping the truth for too long,” said Amnesty International. “Their involvement in renditions and secret detention runs in stark contrast to their claims to be responsible actors in the fight against terrorism.”

The report highlights six cases – involving 13 individuals -- and details the involvement of European states. This ranges from governments permitting CIA flights headed for rendition circuits to use European airports and airspace, as with Shannon Airport, to hosting secret detention centres, or “black sites” and includes the participation by security services from European states in interrogations of their own citizens while concealing their whereabouts from their families.

“The plane that took Khaled al-Maqtari from Baghdad to Kabul where he entered the CIA's black site detention facilities for almost three years of solitary confinement came from Shannon,” Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan pointed out.

“The aircraft that took Abu Omar from Germany to Egypt returned to the US through Shannon. Ireland has been identified as a likely stopover point by the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.”

The report calls for concerted, Europe-wide, action to ensure an end to these violations.

Six of those rendered from Europe remain in illegal detention in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Another is being held in Egypt after an unfair trial before a military court. All of the victims of rendition and secret detention interviewed by Amnesty International say they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated.

“The Irish Government has not taken meaningful steps to discover whether or not Irish territory and airspace has been used for renditions,” Patrick Corrigan said.

“Instead, it has said, in effect, that individuals must themselves identify and present ‘evidence’ to their local Gardaí. It has ignored international calls for an independent inquiry to be held into Ireland's role in renditions, relying instead on worthless US assurances”.

Amnesty International reiterated that governments have an obligation to protect people from terrorist attacks, but must do so within the framework of human rights and the rule of international law. The report makes detailed recommendations for specific European countries to deal with renditions.

Amnesty International calls on the Irish, UK and other European governments to establish the requirement that any aircraft seeking permission to travel across or land in their territory must indicate whether it is carrying any passengers who are deprived of their liberty, giving their status and the legal basis for their transfer.

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