Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shatter claims "immunity" for US Military at Shannon!



Under pressure of opposition questions in Dáil Éireann last week, Defence and Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, introduced a new concept of “sovereign immunity” for US Military aircraft using Shannon airport to tranship troops and their equipment and whatever else they might be carrying, to justify the failure of Irish governments to carry out their obligations under international human rights laws and neutrality laws in respect of misuse of the Airport by the US Military in the past 12 years since the illegal invasion of Afghanistan.

John Lannon of Shannonwatch, the locally based group of peace activists who monitor US activities at the Airport commented:

"The Minister for Justice and Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter has claimed that An Garda Síochána (Irish Police) has no role in relation to the inspection of foreign State or military aircraft at Shannon or other airports because they enjoy "sovereign immunity". In effect this means that the government allows the US military to take whatever or whoever they want through Ireland, regardless of the human rights, security and other consequences.

His statement was made in response to Clare Daly, TD, who asked the Minister whether or not the Government or the Garda Commissioner has instructed Gardaí at Shannon not to search US military aircraft, or chartered aircraft transporting US troops, or aircraft associated with the CIA.

According to Minister Shatter, An Garda Síochána has statutory powers of search and entry available to it under various legislative provisions, and these apply to aircraft as much as to any other type of private property.  He was talking here about civilian as opposed to military aircraft.

The Minister said that these powers may only be exercised in circumstances where a member of An Garda Síochána reasonably suspects that an offence has been or is being committed. But, there have been plenty of incidents in which there were reasonable
grounds to suspect involvement in torture-related offences and these have not been investigated.

The Minister also said that An Garda Síochána has fully investigated a number of allegations of unlawful activity at Irish airports and files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions in some of these cases. This is a claim that was also made by the government in their report to the fourth periodic review under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

At that time they noted that 17 complaints were received by An Garda Síochána regarding alleged rendition flights to/from Shannon Airport. "However they could only confirm that 7 of these were investigated"

Shannonwatch calls on the Department of Justice to make the outcomes of the investigations of all the complaints known, or if no investigations took place to explain why".

This new and outrageous attempt by Shatter to avoid legal responsibility for crimes at Shannon Airport is typical of his contemptuous attitude to any reporting of international law and human rights violations by the US Military or Israel and to the opposition who draw attention to these events on a regular basis, the monthly demonstration organised there by Shannonwatch being the most hated by this imperialist toady who, unfortunately for the Irish people, was put in charge of the Irish departments of Defence and Justice by the current Fine Gael/Labour coalition government.

There is no such thing as “sovereign immunity” for military transports in Irish or International Law; it is a spurious and malignant invention by Shatter to bolster his own pro-imperialist, pro-NATO and pro-zionist views expressed publicly at every opportunity along with vituperative and vicious comments on any opposition to his war-mongering and genocidal cronies in the Pentagon and Tel-Aviv.
The Hague Conventions, 1907:

The Second Hague Convention of October 1907, (Treaty V, Convention relative to the rights and duties of neutral powers and persons in case of war on land), specifically states:

“Art. 2.
Belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power”.

Although this Hague Convention of 1907(V) has not specifically been incorporated in modern  Irish Law by Dáil Éireann, the foundation of the Irish Free State/Saorstát Éireann in 1922, under the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922, affirmed all laws previously in force under the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland remained in force unless amended or repealed by Dáil Éireann and a similar provision in the 1937 Constitution (Bunreacht na hÉireann) regarding the laws of Saorstát Éireann, allows the 1907 Hague Convention, to which the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a signatory, to be validly considered as Irish Law since no amendment or repeal of this convention has been enacted by Dáil Éireann.
Further, after World War II, the judges of the military tribunal of the Trial of German Major War Criminals at the Nuremberg Trials found that by 1939, the rules laid down in the 1907 Hague Convention were recognised by all civilised nations and were regarded as declaratory of the laws and customs of war. Under this post-war decision, a country did not have to have ratified the 1907 Hague Conventions in order to be bound by them.
This leaves no grounds whatsoever for Shatter’s spurious legalisms and such malignant inventions designed to give a fig-leaf of spurious legality for war-crimes and human rights violations by the world’s most aggressive imperialist power, the USA, must be vigorously opposed and rebuffed.



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