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Council of Europe on CIA Torture Flights


There is an interesting interview over at open democracy with Alvaro Gil-Robles, Human Rights commissioner for the Council of Europe. Below is an exerpt from the section where we are mentioned explicitly, in a rather embarrasing comparison with the pro-active response of the Spainiards. Its ok though, Dermot was told that it is all above board and kosher.

Alvaro Gil-Robles: ..... I know that the minister of foreign affairs is going to speak to the parliament, and that he is going to give the information that Spain has on this. It seems to me a good route – towards the light, that things be known and that the government reports.

I tell you sincerely that I wish all governments would follow this example. It would be good if all the ministers told their parliaments, that parliaments would investigate and that finally we could tell our citizens that these centres did not exist and these situations had not occurred. Or, if they have come into existence, that we assign the responsibility to those who have permitted them to exist.

openDemocracy: According to reports, several governments are implicated – Spain and Ireland in the clandestine flights and the movement of prisoners, and the government of the United Kingdom in other violations. Why do you think that these democratic governments are violating human rights to this extent?

Alvaro Gil-Robles: I am not saying that they have violated human rights. I am saying that we have to have an investigation to determine if such clandestine detention centres do exist. We are in the stage of newspaper accusations, with no official confirmation of which countries are involved, though many versions are in circulation. For me this is enough. There are doubts and we have to shed light on this, to investigate. What I am asking for is this investigation. Clearly, I am not accusing anybody. I am saying we have to investigate. We cannot stay silent.

We certainy cannot. There is no room within a demorcacy or union of democracies for thin-end approaches to human rights and torture. The rest of the article is a very valuable insight to our democratic condition and our vulnerability if we succumb to efforts or desires to torture suspects. I could honestly post most of it. Such a move would doubtless harness few readers pleasure so I shall refrain. I may return to some of the latter interview later in the weekend perhaps. Read it.

Returning to the matter of Shannon's use. It is imperative that we ask questions of our role, if only to assert our loyalty to democratic principles of right and law. We cannot afford to be implicated in doing nothing alongside allowing our airspace to be used for illegal measures.

One point which I wish to reiterate at this point, I am sure that this sounds like a degree of war-bashing nonsense from some rabid lefty, nothing is farther from the truth. Honestly, I believe the decision to allow the US Army use Shannon is one our government took, we voted them in and if we disagree with the policy, should vote them out. It is a seperate issue when one considers that our facilities have been abused and our standing debased, if the CIA used Shannon to transfer torture suspects.

The whole issue is not even in play. Gil-Robles again, " this [terrorism] does not mean we have to renounce our fundamental values and principles. The firmer we are the more we are confident of this battle. If we violate these principles we will have surrendered the most fundamental thing: our model of society, which is given unity by our principles. These fundamental values and principles are what separates us from terrorists and dictators. I am not ready to renounce them."

Neither should we be. We must have an investigation and ascertain the facts as they relate to our airspace and its use.

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  1. Blogger Daedalus | 7:33 p.m. |  

    Sorry I couldn't do more to get Americans to vote the problem out last year. Americans are a little slow, you see, but they are finally waking up. I am glad to see the Shannon debate heating up a little. I just wish it would get more international recognition. If the 52nd state of the US (HA! That's a joke, please laugh.) won't cooperate with us, it would send waves through the Irish-American community and maybe wake Americans up some more.

    I'm starting to believe more in karma, as this is coming back to bite the gops in the ass.

    By the way, the 51st state is the UK.


  2. Blogger Simon | 11:52 p.m. |  

    I think you inflate Irish american following of Ireland. Daedalus

    the problem with shannon is wheather the americans abuse it. If it is just troop movements then I have no problem with it. I mean if saddam want to land there on the way to america no prob. That is the governments stand on the issue and the governments mandate given to the americans.

    The question is are america abusing the trust given to it by the Irish government. I have yet to see any clear evidence proving either side. just hot air.

  3. Blogger Cian | 4:36 p.m. |  

    Saint, I agree, indeed pointed out that this is unrelated to overflight into iraq.
    Misuse of shannon is, honestly, only speculation at this point, although Village did track two flights associated with allegations of torture. Still, the only way to be sure is cooperation with COE and instigation of our own inquiry.
    We have got a serious question mark over our airport and id prefer to see it cleared up.

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