EU must stop stonewalling on investigating CIA renditions complicity
(Brussels, 27 March 2012) Five years after the European Parliament’s first report on CIA renditions, Amnesty International has urged European Union countries to make a renewed commitment to investigating their own involvement. Parliament’s committee on Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs (LIBE) is producing a report on EU countries’ compliance with an EP resolution requiring them to conduct independent enquiries into their alleged complicity. It is expected that the EP plenary will vote on the report in September. A hearing on this follow-up is being held at the EP today.
"New data and information which has come to light over the last five years makes it imperative for member states to act”, said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, who is testifying at today’s hearing. “The EP process is the perfect opportunity to press reluctant governments to make progress on accountability for operations which involved egregious human rights violations, including torture and enforced disappearance.”
The EP’s 2007 report, led by rapporteur Claudio Fava, faced major opposition in parliament, resulting in virtually no real accountability among EU countries. The fifth anniversary and the new report mark key milestones in the project to unlock the truth about European complicity. Governments which allegedly colluded with the CIA in illegally transferring, disappearing, and torturing people are required to ensure that an independent, impartial, thorough and effective investigation is carried out into the human rights violations.
Since the Fava report, the Lithuanian Government has admitted to hosting secret CIA prisons, a Bucharest building has been identified as allegedly hosting a CIA detention centre, and a Polish investigation into secret sites has proceeded, but has repeatedly faltered, despite data released in 2009 adding to evidence of Polish complicity. Denmark and Finland have been linked to Lithuania in recent releases of rendition flight data, but Finland has declined to investigate further and Denmark’s current enquiry is considered too narrow to comply with human rights standards. A proposed British enquiry was abruptly halted in 2011 pending the outcome of a criminal investigation into British complicity in CIA renditions to Libya.
“There is no dearth of information’, said Hall. “But there’s an appalling lack of political will to secure the truth. How can the EU, which portrays itself as a human rights standard-bearer, presume to tell other governments, notably those involved in the Arab Spring, how important human rights are when it steadfastly refuses to investigate its own alleged complicity in torture and disappearance ”
Amnesty International has urged EU countries to cooperate fully with the EP process, which includes sharing information and permitting site visits. It believes the LIBE committee should produce an authoritative and comprehensive report highlighting gaps in accountability processes at national and EU level. And the report should recommend an EP resolution which requires member states to conduct a human rights-compliant investigation into complicity in the CIA operations, afford effective redress to victims of these practices, and reform any agency or system which led to the abuses in the first place.
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