New European Parliament report on rendition sends 'powerful signal'
‘The UK seems determined to keep these issues under wraps’ - Tara Lyle
Amnesty International has welcomed a vote by the European Parliament in Strasbourg today endorsing - by 568 votes (34 against, 77 abstentions) - a new report on accountability concerning EU countries and their involvement in renditions and other human rights violations.
The report urges EU countries - including the UK - to fulfil their legal obligation to investigate their role in the global CIA-led rendition and secret detention programmes, which involved the torture and the enforced disappearance of alleged terrorism suspects.
Amnesty recently launched a campaign called “Unlock the Truth” ( www.unlockthetruth.org ) to press for today’s outcome. The campaign has handed a petition with thousands of signatures to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament.
Amnesty International European Institutions Office Director Nicolas Beger said:
“This is an excellent outcome. The report has now been overwhelmingly endorsed by MEPs from all political groups, so it sends a very powerful signal.
“We’ve been campaigning for urgent attention to this issue since the last report in 2007. But much remains to be done. We now need to see tangible action by the various governments, and an end to their evasion of responsibility.”
No EU country has yet met the legal obligation to hold a full and effective investigation into its role in the CIA programmes. In 2010 the UK prime minister David Cameron announced that a “Detainee Inquiry” would be established to investigate allegations of the UK’s involvement in torture and other human rights violations of detainees held overseas, but this was shelved earlier this year while a number of police investigations into individual cases are undertaken. The inquiry was in any case roundly criticised by victims and human rights groups, with Amnesty saying it was “never fit for purpose”.
Meanwhile Amnesty has expressed strong concern at proposals contained in a new Justice and Security Bill, which will allow the use of “closed material procedures” in future civil claims cases concerning individuals who allege that the UK was involved in their rendition, unlawful detention and mistreatment
Amnesty International UK Policy Adviser Tara Lyle:
“Slowly but surely the European Parliament is making progress over the great rendition cover up.
“It’s now vital that the UK government does the same, ensuring we get a new detainee inquiry with teeth - one that finally allows victims and the general public to learn what went on during this dark period.
“Instead, the UK seems determined to keep these issues under wraps - preferring to throw a cloak of secrecy over past wrongdoing with dangerous new ‘secret justice’ proposals.”
The European Parliament report focuses on the three European countries known or alleged to have hosted secret CIA detention sites: Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Despite fresh information on rendition flights to and from Lithuania released by Reprieve this week, the authorities in Vilnius still refuse to re-open a criminal investigation into secret two CIA sites set up there in 2002 and 2004. In Poland, an ongoing investigation into a CIA secret prison has made limited progress, but the prosecutor has refused to keep either the parties or the public adequately informed. Romania has flatly denied any involvement in the CIA programmes, including credible allegations of a secret CIA prison there and has refused to investigate further.
Meanwhile, although flight data and information released in 2011-12 clearly implicate Denmark and Finland, both governments have refused to hold a human rights-compliant investigation. In July this year, Finland rejected a recommendation arising from its UN Universal Periodic Review process which asked it to hold a full investigation into its role in the rendition programme, to prosecute those involved, and to compensate victims.
In the report, EU countries are urged to hold full and effective investigations into collaboration with the CIA in setting up these sites, where suspects were tortured and otherwise ill-treated. Amnesty will continue to seek information on possible forensic analysis of the sites, which might indicate whether anyone was held there. All three governments deny, without having produced any public evidence, that anybody was secretly detained on their territory.