(Brussels, 24 June) Not a single measure has been taken to prevent further European involvement in rendition and secret detention says Amnesty International as it releases a new report: “State of denial: Europe’s role in renditions and secret detention”.
The report sheds further light on the extent of Europe’s role in US-led renditions and detention programmes, and on the continuing failure of European states to admit or investigate violations carried out by their nationals or in their territory.
Europe was complicit at various levels. In some cases there was active participation in renditions by sharing information that led to abductions, in others, there was active participation by European agents in interrogations. Some countries, it is now clear, even hosted secret prisons.
At the same time, Europe’s airports and airspace were, and very likely continue to be made available to the CIA. The suspicious airplanes that flew uncontrolled through Portuguese airspace until December 2007 is one example of this.
On another level, there has been a collective failure by Europe to protect the victims of renditions and to compensate them and their families for their suffering. Canada has offered a public apology, as well as compensation, to Maher Arar who was tortured in Syria on account of an extraordinary rendition. A similar response has yet to happen in Europe where individuals were also arbitrarily detained, kidnapped and tortured. On the contrary, despite some initiatives of individual prosecutors, European governments have invoked national security or state secrecy to stall investigations.
“Seven EU Presidencies have passed since European involvement in renditions was first exposed and there has been no action whatsoever, not even an acknowledgement of Europe’s complicity”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office.
“The danger here is not only one of lack of coherence and respect for the EU’s values but that by ignoring the problem, it is allowing such serious violations to continue”, he added.
Amnesty International’s report also presents a six-point plan to end European involvement in renditions and secret detentions, including recommendations to bring justice and prevent such practices.