EU-US Summit – Time to improve communication

EU-US Summit – Time to improve communication

(Brussels, 9 June) On the eve of the EU-US Summit in Slovenia, Amnesty International urges the EU to take a clear stand with the United States on the human rights violations being committed in the name of the so-called “war on terror”. (Click here for briefing)

After finally asking for the closure of Guantánamo in June 2006, the EU has not offered constructive solutions to help close the illegal prison.

At the moment, about a quarter of the hundreds still held in Guantánamo have been cleared for release without ever having been charged with a crime by the US authorities.* Yet since they cannot be returned to their home countries because of the risk of torture they are being kept in indefinite detention, in violation of international human rights law.

The EU could and should help the US in resolving this very concrete situation that is one of the issues preventing the closure of Guantánamo, by offering to resettle these individuals in Europe.

“Instead of watching passively, the EU should engage with the US in the search for a solution that will put an end to Guantánamo and the failure of rule of law that it represents. And what better occasion than tomorrow’s Summit, with President Bush himself ” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.

“The EU has an obligation to raise human rights concerns, particularly when they are so serious. By not raising them the EU is giving the US a preferential status which ultimately reduces its credibility to raise these with others” added Beger.

“Improved communication would also help clarify exactly how the CIA has used European territory and airspace to carry out extraordinary renditions, sparing Europe embarrassment in the future” he said.

In its briefing Amnesty International also urges the EU presidency to press for progress on the following areas:

Urge the US to abandon the military commission system for trial of detainees as these do not constitute a fair trial in line with international standards;

Urge the US to reject all forms of torture, including waterboarding and seek clarification on the whereabouts of all persons currently being held in secret detention and on all CIA planes that have transited through Europe;

Express disappointment at the resumption of executions in the US, after the recent UN resolution calling for a world wide moratorium on the death penalty.

*For more information see AI report: Cleared for Release – Still in Guantánamo