Thursday, April 6, 2006

eu countries; breached the charter of human rights ...

More evidence surfaces over CIA torture flights
Christiane kirketerp,Wednesday 5th April, 2006 (UPI)

New information supports allegations that the CIA used European airports to transport terrorist suspects to countries where they were submitted to torture, according to a report published by Amnesty International Tuesday.

The London-based organization presented a 51-page dossier investigating claims that the American intelligence service has operated illegal rendition flights and abducted foreign citizens. The paper shows that more than 1,000 suspicious U.S. flights have used European airspace and airports during the last five years. These airplanes have been linked to the American intelligence agency through front companies and U.S. defense fueling allowances.

Amnesty International could not, however, give a clear estimate of how many of these flights have been involved in the so-called extra judicial rendition scheme where a terrorist suspect is captured and extradited without ever being put before a judge.

Titled "USA -- Below the Radar: Secret Flights to Torture and Disappearance," the document purports to reveal not only the extent of CIA activity on European territory, it also provides detailed descriptions of the inhumane conditions under which terrorist suspects were allegedly held.

The extensive compilation is likely to supply the European Parliament's investigative committee with new ammunition to beef up pressure on member states and other EU hopefuls to come clean about what happened to terrorist suspects on European soil. During the assembly's last debate on the issue Monday, lawmakers from both sides of the house complained about the lack of cooperation from European governments, adopting 'see no evil, hear no evil' tactics.

"There is a list of documents and invitations to governments that have not been replied to," British Socialist Claude Moraes told the Web site on Tuesday, adding: "This is emerging as a key weakness in our inquiry. It is going to be problematic for our report and to get the smoking gun we need if we do not have confirmation from governments."

If an EU country knowingly hosted secret interrogation facilities it should be found guilty of breaching the European Charter of Human Rights and subsequently punished, the committee's vice-chair Baroness Ludford warned. In the case of candidate countries, this could mean a delay in their accession to the European Union.

A large chunk of the European Parliament shares Amnesty International's hope that the EU can exert enough pressure to put an end to the practice of extraordinary rendition, which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has defended as a tool in the war on terror.

Washington maintains that suspects are never sent to countries where they could risk torture. However, this argument is rubbished by Amnesty International. "If the risk of torture or ill-treatment in custody is so great that the U.S.A. must seek assurances that the receiving state will not behave as it normally does, then the risk is obviously too great to permit the transfer," the report states.

Testimonies in the Amnesty report also show a reality different from the reassurances made by Dr. Rice. The human rights watchdog interviewed several Muslim men who claimed to have been unlawfully held and tortured by the United States. Factual information from these interviews, such as dates, length of flights and geographical indicators, were cross-referenced with flight records that can be linked to the CIA between 2001 and 2005. Often they showed a remarkable correlation between flight plans and times of abduction, Amnesty International said.

One of the most detailed descriptions relates to three Muslim men who suddenly surfaced in Yemen in May 2005. The prisoners, who were captured in Tanzania and Jordan, were held without trial for 18 months. Interviews with the three men indicate they were kept in secret prisons in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe, the document claims.

However, the organization does not provide any solid proof of the involvement of Eastern European countries. Instead, it bases its assumptions on circumstantial evidence such as prisoners remembering 'it was cold' and flight time to the final destination in Yemen. Amnesty said it was also alerted by the tremendous efforts that were made to conceal the location from the detainees -- such as removing labels on food products and using blindfolds during transfers, it said.

So far, no Eastern European country has admitted to hosting so-called black sites. On the contrary, the two prime suspects -- Romania and Bulgaria -- who are among the United States' staunchest allies in the region, have vehemently denied the existence of foreign interrogation centers on their territories.

The compilation of information will be taken into account when the European Parliament drafts its report. Representatives from several human rights organizations and the media have already testified before the temporary committee. Next month a delegation from the assembly will cross the pond to question U.S. officials and intelligence agencies on the allegations. A final report is due in June, yet the parliament cannot single-handedly place sanctions on states found guilty of violating human rights.


Christiane Kirketerp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.