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EU justice meeting: Letter calls for investigations over rendition complicity

Amnesty International has called on European Union countries to ensure there are effective investigations into their involvement in the CIA rendition and secret detention programme.

Amnesty made the call in a letter to the Spanish EU presidency, as EU home affairs ministers meet today and tomorrow (Justice and Home Affairs Council, 25-26 February) to discuss a proposed Internal Security Strategy (ISS).

Amnesty International EU office director Nicolas Beger said:

“The EU has to do more than just pay lip service to the idea of a union based on the values and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Human rights have to be placed on an equal footing with issues concerning security and intelligence cooperation in the strategy.

“We want to see accountability and action from the EU on these questions now. It is clear that several member states have been involved in gross human rights violations in recent years, and proper investigations must be carried out if the EU is truly committed to a community based on the rule of law.”

Amnesty is stressing that the poor record of government action after several inquiries into cooperation with the US government in the so-called “war on terror” underlines the need for a new EU impetus in which human rights are fully respected. A recent study on secret detention in relation to countering terrorism was issued by the United Nations last month. It identified a number of EU member states, including Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom, which have been involved in unlawful practices and a lack of political will to fully investigate these allegations and hold individuals liable for criminal acts.

Amnesty is urging ministers at the JHA council to include the issue of EU member state complicity in the CIA rendition and secret detention programme in the new ISS. Effective investigations about member states’ involvement in line with the European Parliament resolutions of 2007 and 2009 on the subject must be conducted.

A good starting point, believes Amnesty, would be to urge the UK government to conduct an independent and impartial inquiry into its own role in rendition, secret detention and interrogations of persons held abroad, including in the case of Binyam Mohamed. Pressure is also needed to ensure that inquiries in Germany, Poland and Lithuania continue their work and meet governments’ international legal obligations.

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