PRESS RELEASE from Dr Bill Wilson MSP
17 September 2008
Dr Bill Wilson, SNP MSP for the West of Scotland, today announced that he had just written to Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Justice, requesting that he obtain an assurance from the UK Government that it would inform the Scottish Government should it give permission for Scottish territory to be used for US rendition flights.
Dr Wilson explained, "The US Government has promised that it will not use UK territory for rendition without the explicit permission of the UK Government. The UK Government has stated that it will only give such permission if it believes such flights accord with UK law and international obligations.
"Given the UK Government's history - for example its clearance of Diego Garcia and its role in the invasion of Iraq - its judgement of what is 'in accord with UK law and international obligations' is highly questionable. For this reason I think Scotland should do what it can to make sure that the UK Government will not grant permission for the use of Scottish soil for the abhorrent and counterproductive practice of rendition, behind the backs of Scottish citizens. We should have no truck with torture and we should proclaim this far and wide."
Notes to Editors
- Dr Wilson's letter to Mr MacAskill:
Mr K MacAskill
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh EH1 3DG
Thank you for your letter of 4 August on the subject of the use of Scottish airports for rendition flights. I am pleased with your answer to Jamie Hepburnï¿½s question, S3W-14905, which I copy here for ease of reference:
S3W-14905 - Jamie Hepburn (Central Scotland) (SNP) (Date Lodged Monday, July 07, 2008): To ask the Scottish Executive, further to the statement from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice in a Scottish Government press release of 11 June 2007 that "the Scottish Government opposes illegal rendition flights" and his consultation with civil liberties groups on the matter, what progress has been made to ensure that aircraft engaged in a rendition circuit will not be able to make use of facilities at Scottish airports.
Answered by Kenny MacAskill (Friday, July 25, 2008): I refer the member to the Foreign Secretary's written statement to the House of Commons on 3 July (Hansard 58WS). The Scottish Government welcomes confirmation by the US Authorities that there has been no use of Scottish airports for rendition flights since September 2001, and their confirmation that there will be no use of UK territories by such flights in future without the express permission of the UK Government. As you will see, the Foreign Secretary has confirmed that such permission would only be granted if the UK Government was satisfied that the rendition would accord with UK law and our international obligations. The Scottish Government remains firmly opposed to rendition flights and believes that they could never be in accordance with domestic or international law. Therefore, we continue to expect that there will be no use of Scottish territory for this purpose under any circumstances.
The one grey area, as far as I can see, is that while the Scottish Government's opinion is that rendition flights could never be in accordance with domestic or international law and therefore that the UK Government would never give permission for such flights to use UK territory (because the Foreign Secretary has promised not to give permission for such flights unless they were "in accord with UK law and our international obligations"), there is no explicit promise that the UK Government would inform the Scottish Government in the circumstances that it believed it acceptable to give such permission.
In light of its actions with regard to Diego Garcia and the controversy regarding the legality of the invasion of Iraq it seems reasonable to question the UK Government's judgement of what is in accordance with domestic or international law. At the very least it cannot be assumed to have infallible judgement in this area. For this reason I specifically request that you obtain an assurance from the UK Government that it would inform the Scottish Government if it were to grant permission for the use of any part of Scotland by an aircraft involved in rendition.
I thank you for considering this and look forward to your reply.
- Previous release on rendition flights:
"Scotland wants no part in extraordinary rendition": MSP hands petition to Cab. Sec. for Justice.