Posted: 20 March 2007
Amnesty International is urging Derry City Council to adopt a new 'anti-rendition' policy for use at the council-owned City of Derry Airport.
The airport was one of many originally named as a stopover destination for two Gulfstream private jets, known to have been used in the past by the CIA for so-called 'rendition' flights, the illegal practice of abduction, secret transportation and detention of terror suspects.
Subsequently, Amnesty International was able to give the Airport the 'all-clear', after records for the suspicious flights were shown to members of the local Amnesty Foyle Group. The human rights organisation confirmed that, based on the information provided by the Airport, it seemed clear that the jets were in Derry for legitimate business purposes rather than on unlawful CIA flights.
At the time the local council confirmed their opposition to the practice of rendition and Amnesty now expects the local authority to be the first in Europe to adopt a new anti-rendition policy drafted by Amnesty International.
This will include:
- The airport maintaining and updating a register of aircraft operators whose planes have been implicated in rendition flights. The register would require the operators to provide detailed information before allowing them landing or flyover rights.
- If any passengers are listed as prisoners or detainees, more detailed information about their status and the status of their flight should be required, including their destination and the legal basis for their transfer.
- Where there is reason to believe that an aircraft might be used to carry out rendition or associated operations, the Airport will notify the relevant law enforcement authorities, and maintain public records of all such notifications.
The council is also being asked to subsequently contact other airport authorities in the UK and Ireland to urge them to adopt similar policies.
Legal advisers to the human rights body, The Council of Europe, have stated that European states must inspect aircraft landing in their jurisdictions if there are "serious reasons" to believe that prisoners bound for torture or secret detention are on board. Yet it is known that neither the UK nor Irish Governments have been insisting on these safeguards. Amnesty's anti-rendition policy for City of Derry Airport would commit it to taking these steps.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland programme director, says:
'We are really encouraged by the interest shown by Derry City councillors in adopting this policy and taking a lead in the campaign to stop the practice of rendition.'
It is hoped that the policy will be adopted by the Council at its meeting on March 27th.
On March 23rd Amnesty International will host a visit to Derry by former Guantánamo Bay detainees, the so-called Tipton Three - Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul.
The three men, the subjects of an award-winning film, 'The Road To Guantánamo', will be at appearing at a screening of the film at the Nerve Centre and it is hoped that they will also meet councilors in advance of the anti-rendition vote.
- Amnesty International has previously reported on over 1,000 flights linked to the CIA, most of which have used European airspace. Even though analysing only a small proportion of the CIA's aircraft fleet, Amnesty International has listed over 150 CIA flights to numerous airports in the UK and Ireland in the past five years.
- One of the jets which landed at City of Derry Airport, a Gulfstream IV plane (registration N85VM-N227SV), is known to have been used by the CIA to transport kidnapped detainees to the Middle East. It is also known to have refuelled at Belfast International Airport.
- The European Parliament voted to adopt a report by a renditions committee on February 14th 2007. The report, by the Temporary Committee of the European Parliament on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners (TDIP Temporary Committee), has called for further investigations into allegations that European countries have been complicit in the USA's illegal renditions operation.