A year ago this week, within 48 hours of taking office, Barack Obama announced that Guantánamo Bay detention centrewould close within 12 months and that the CIA’s network of secret prisons would be dismantled. Today, 198 prisoners remain in Guantánamo. The CIA is still allowed to carry out “rendition operations”, or kidnapping to be more accurate. It can still detain people in secret or hand them over to another country for interrogation. Dozens of people known to have been held in secret CIA prisons are still missing. Detainees continue to be denied a fair trial. No one has been brought to justice for acts of kidnapping and torture committed by the US intelligence services and people acting on their behalf. By any standards, including those he has set himself, the first year of the Obama administration has been marked by very limited progress on human rights. It is true that a number of Guantánamo detainees have been released. The use of waterboarding and other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques have been banned. These moves are absolutely to be welcomed, but the human rights abuses committed by the United States today are no less outrageous simply because George Bush is not in charge.

The first step to resolving this for good is to accept that this is not simply an American problem. The US government did not carry out its decade-long assault on the rule of law and respect for international human rights by itself. It had help. In 2006 the Council of Europe said: “It is now clear that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities. Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know.” European governments allowed the CIA to use their airports and airspace to transport prisoners. They hosted secret detention centres. Their security personnel participated in illegal interrogations and detentions of their own citizens. Guantánamo exists because EU member states, including Ireland, made it possible. But despite this, and frequent calls from the EU to shut it down, most member states are reluctant to provide practical assistance. Read full article in the Irish Times...