The Irish Government has landed in hot water after the public realized that under cover of the London bombings, Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell, last week signed up to a de facto extension of the U.S. Patriot Act into Ireland.
It's a worrying trend. Back in 2003, the U.S. and EU agreed to extradition and mutual legal assistance. Ireland is now the eleventh of the 25 EU member states to complete the relevant bilateral agreements.
At last week's signing ceremony, US Ambassador, James C Kenny, justified the move thus:
As last week’s bombings in London showed all too well, terrorists can and will strike wherever they are able, and they will take advantage of our open societies... The entire international community must engage the fight against terrorism...Sorry, Mr. Ambassador. But, "advancing the global war on terrorism" is not everybody's idea of progress.
This agreement... allows our governments to form joint investigative teams..., and to replace outdated extradition procedures with provisions that apply across the EU.
In short, this agreement benefits everyone in our respective societies as it enables us to fight crime more effectively and to advance the global war on terrorism.
The feces just hit the fan with an article in the Irish Cork Examiner pointing out:
The US may ask Irish authorities: To track down people in Ireland; to transfer prisoners in Irish custody to the US; to carry out searches and seize evidence on behalf of the US Government. The Irish authorities must keep all these activities secret if asked to do so by the US.In earlier comments on all this, Statewatch.org noted:
The person who will request co-operation is US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the man who, as White House counsel, instigated the notorious 'torture memo' to US President George W Bush which advised how far CIA agents could go in torturing prisoners...
In two recent US Supreme Court cases, the US Government argued that US citizens could be imprisoned indefinitely without charge if the president designated them as "enemy combatants".
Irish Council for Civil Liberties director Aisling Reidy said: "An extraordinary aspect to this treaty is, despite its scope and its potential to violate basic constitutional and human rights, that all this happened without debate or transparency.
It appears that "some" EU Member States are willing to become "accomplices" to the death penalty, by supplying evidence and witnesses to the US in death penalty trials - even though all EU member states have ratified [protocols] which ban the death penalty absolutely.Statewatch applied to the Council of Europe for the first two drafts of the EU discussions on the negotiations and was refused. Statewatch appealed against this decision on the grounds that to withhold access on an issue which could have:
"huge implications for peoples' rights and liberties.. [and] it is quite unacceptable in a democracy that such an agreement should be negotiated and agreed in complete secrecy"In response the Council said on the issue of "public interest" that the:
"interest of protecting the Council's objectives outweighs the interest in "democratic control" of the negotiating process which is referred to by the applicant"All of this still has to get by European courts -which is not a formality. In a recent ruling on a challenge by the German national Mamoun Darkazanli, who was facing an extradition request from Spain on al-Qaida terrorist charges, the highest German Constitutional Court declared the European Arrest Warrant void:
"The Act encroaches upon the freedom from extradition [because implementation] into national law [must show] the highest possible consideration in respect of the fundamental right concerned. The order of the Higher Regional Court and the judicial authority's decision that grants extradition were reversed." [Source]See Also:
Highlights of EU-US Justice Cooperation
OSCE Expert Workshop, Vienna, 15 April 2005
Cmtee on Intl. Relations U.S. House of Rep, Sept. 14th, 2004
Secret EU-US agreement being negotiated
Council of the European Union Brussels, 13 June 2003
Council of the European Union Brussels, 5 April 2002
Death Penalty No Block to EU-U.S. extradition, U.S. Says