European States legally responsible for rendition abuses

The complicity of EU Member States in the US-led renditions programme must be addressed at tomorrow’s European Council. The summit is an important opportunity for the EU to commit to ending renditions on European soil, said Amnesty International.

This call came as the organization released a report detailing cases involving seven European states – including four EU members. In an Appeal to Heads of State and Government, Amnesty International has called for the European Council to ban renditions.

The report “Partners in Crime: Europe’s role in US renditions” analyses the various levels of involvement by Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey and explains how under international law they are complicit for human rights abuses carried out in renditions.

The publication of this report comes after last week’s hard-hitting revelations of Senator Marty’s Council of Europe draft report and marks the launch of Amnesty International’s campaign to end rendition in the region.

“Europe often presents itself as a beacon for human rights. The uncomfortable truth is that without Europe’s help, some men would not now be nursing torture wounds in prison cells in various parts of the world,” said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research.

“European states must not hide their complicity in US renditions behind the cloak of their intelligence agencies,” said Claudio Cordone. “Some states have even handed people over to the CIA and thus bear responsibility for the subsequent torture and other abuses suffered by those people.”

In the six rendition cases described in the report, thirteen men were bundled onto planes and transferred abroad, without due process, to detention sites where they all say they have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. While the way in which each state is implicated differs, their action, or inaction, contravened their obligations under international law.

“Persistent denials from European states of their involvement in renditions and the lack of any meaningful response from the EU apart from the Parliament, pose a serious problem — not only for the credibility of the EU, but ultimately for the effectiveness of the counter-terrorist effort itself,” said Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International’s EU office.

“At next week’s EU-US summit in Vienna, the EU would not be credible asking President Bush to close Guantánamo if it does not address the European complicity that allowed men to be sent there in the first place”.

The rendition programme has also highlighted the fact that US secret services can operate covertly in Europe outside the rule of law and without accountability. Amnesty International asks the EU to ensure the development of a regulatory framework governing the activities of national and foreign intelligence agencies.

The report “Partners in crime: Europe’s role in US renditions” and the Open Letter are available.

For further comment/background and interviews:
Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels)
Tel: +32-2-5021499
Fax: +32-2-5025686
Email: [email protected]