Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Council of Europe Extraordinary Rendition Report

The Council of Europe Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has published its draft report on its investigations of US extraordinary rendition (transport of suspects to torture centres) flights in Europe. It makes gruesome reading, particularly in relation to the details of specific individual cases they have been able to investigate. They conclude:

"280. Our analysis of the CIA 'rendition' programme has revealed a network that resembles a 'spider’s web' spun across the globe. The analysis is based on official information provided by national and international air traffic control authorities, as well as on other information including from sources inside intelligence services, in particular the American. This 'web', shown in the graphic239, is composed of several landing points, which we have subdivided into different categories, and which are linked up among themselves by civilian planes used by the CIA or military aircraft.

281. These landing points are used for various purposes that range from aircraft stopovers to refuel during a mission to staging points used for the connection of different 'rendition circuits' that we have identified and where “rendition units” can rest and prepare missions...

283. Analysis of the network’s functioning and of ten individual cases allows us to make a number of conclusions both about human rights violations – some of which continue – and about the responsibilities of some Council of Europe member States.

284. It must be emphasised that this report is indeed addressed to the Council of Europe Member states. The United States, an observer state of our Organisation, actually created this reprehensible network, which we criticise in light of the values shared on both sides of the Atlantic. But we also believe to have established that it is only through the intentional or grossly negligent collusion of the European partners that this “web” was able to spread also over Europe.

285. The impression which some Governments tried to create at the beginning of this debate – that Europe was a victim of secret CIA plots – does not seem to correspond to reality. It is now clear – although we are still far from having established the whole truth - that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities. Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know...

287. Whilst hard evidence, at least according to the strict meaning of the word, is still not forthcoming, a number of coherent and converging elements indicate that secret detention centres have indeed existed and unlawful inter-state transfers have taken place in Europe. I do not set myself up to act as a criminal court, because this would require evidence beyond reasonable doubt. My assessment rather reflects a conviction based upon careful examination of balance of probabilities, as well as upon logical deductions from clearly established facts. It is not intended to pronounce that the authorities of these countries are ‘guilty’ for having tolerated secret detention sites, but rather it is to hold them ‘responsible’ for failing to comply with the positive obligation to diligently investigate any serious allegation of fundamental rights violations."

They make specific allegations against a whole raft of EU states and finish up by saying

"292. With regards to these extremely serious allegations, it is urgent – that is the principal aim of this report – that all Council of Europe member states concerned finally comply with their positive obligation under the ECHR to investigate. It is also crucial that the proposals in the draft resolution and recommendation are implemented so that terrorism can be fought effectively whilst respecting human rights at the same time."

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