As Barack Obama begins his official visit to Ireland this is an opportune moment to ask why the United States wants, with no verifiable evidence, to extradite a 76 year old Irish citizen, in poor health on a warrant issued by a former US Secretary of State in the last days of the previous Bush administration.
It is also worth asking about the standard of human rights in America particularly in relation to its judicial and penal systems.
The US Department of Justice is accusing Sean Garland of involvement in an international US dollar forgery conspiracy.
Garland, a citizen of the Irish Republic, was arrested on foot of an extradition warrant from the United States America, while on a visit to Belfast in October 2005.
The decision to effect an extradition warrant against Garland while he was outside of the Republic of Ireland and its legal protection was not accidental. It was also contemptuous of the rights of Irish citizens and the Irish judicial and legislative processes.
The extradition warrant was processed in camera by a US Grand Jury. The decision was was kept secret at the request of the US Government Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ken Wainstein. Sean Garland, he said ‘is a national and a resident of the Republic of Ireland and as it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain his extradition from Ireland, it is of critical importance that the Indictment not be unsealed as long as he is planning to travel outside Ireland’.
Bailed by the Northern Ireland courts, he was allowed to travel to Dublin to continue medical treatment. He chose to remain in the Republic of Ireland and was subsequently re-arrested on 21st November 2008. The request for his extradition was signed by Condoleezza Rice. Many see this as a vindictive act by the outgoing discredited Bush/Cheney administration in the continued persecution of Sean Garland.
At a time of much hope and optimism that the election of Barack Obama heralded a new and more open approach to international relations and human rights standards in particular, observers conclude that this was only one of probably many attempts by the outgoing administration to frustrate a new beginning by Obama and his team.
US human rights record
The United States human rights record has also caused considerable concern amongst those campaigning to prevent Garland’s extradition. The US has been repeatedly criticised internationally on a number of human rights issues including excessive sentencing, jail overcrowding and the use of the secretive grand jury system.
The current treatment of Bradley Manning the soldier accused of providing information to the Wikileaks web site has caused considerable international concern. Manning is being held in solitary confinement is on suicide watch, and is stripped to just a smock at night and checked on repeatedly. A number of commentators have classified his treatment as torture.
The Irish Government must to refuse Sean Garland’s extradition request on political, humanitarian, moral, legal and human rights grounds.
The request is an affront to common standards of decency, and a serious threat to threat to the health and well-being of an Irish citizen.
See attached file: ‘Sean Garland – a case study in political set ups’ - click download link at end of this page.
Who is supporting the campaign?
There has been cross party support in the Dail and Seanad as well as in County and City Councils around the country, including Cork, Waterford, Galway, and Dublin
Amongst those politicians who have signed the ‘Stop the Extradition of Sean Garland’ petition are:
Ruairi Quinn TD
Phil Hogan TD
Joanna Tuffy TD
John Halligan TD
Senator David Norris
Senator Eoghan Harris
Senator Labhras O Murchu