Member states told to 'accept responsibility' for illegal CIA renditions

On the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, MEPs have sent a strong message that the European Union must not sacrifice the human rights of its citizens in the fight against terror. Reports Gerald Callaghan

By Gerald Callaghan

12 Sep 2012

In a resolution adopted by a large majority in the European parliament, MEPs urged EU member states to fully disclose information on the US central intelligence agency's (CIA) secret flights carrying suspected terrorists.

The report on the alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA was adopted after new evidence was highlighted by the press and NGOs, including Amnesty International, concerning European countries' involvement in the CIA's illegal extraordinary rendition programme.

Hélène Flautre, rapporteur for the report, said at a press conference on Tuesday, "It is quite clear there was a systematic programme of transfer of people", involving, "Switches [of prisoners] in third countries so as to hide the final destination of the people involved".

The report presses EU member states to hold full and effective investigations into the collaboration with the CIA in setting up sites where suspects were tortured and otherwise ill-treated.

At the same press conference in Strasbourg, French EPP group deputy Michèle Striffler warned, "We should not confuse the fight against terrorism with non-respect for human rights".

Striffler added "Countries must recognise what is going on in their territories and give explanations" as to why these practices were allowed to take place, before adding that the values of freedom, democracy and the respect for human rights "are unshakable".

Tanja Fajon, a member of the parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, echoed the sentiment of Striffler, saying, "Human dignity and human rights have no statute of limitations".

"We have to prevent something similar from ever happening again", and for this the European citizens "must hear the truth" about what has been taking place inside their own countries' borders, said the Slovenian MEP.

"The report has now been overwhelmingly endorsed by MEPs from all political groups, so it sends a very powerful signal" - Nicolas Beger

Speaking after the result of the vote was announced, Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty International's European institutions office said, "This is an excellent outcome. The report has now been overwhelmingly endorsed by MEPs from all political groups, so it sends a very powerful signal"

"We've been campaigning for urgent attention to this issue since the last report in 2007. But much remains to be done. We now need to see tangible action by the various governments, and an end to their evasion of responsibility", Beger said.

Amnesty International has launched the campaign 'Unlock the Truth in Europe' to coincide with the final stages of the report's adoption.

British MEP Claude Moraes, S&D group spokesperson on the civil liberties committee, said, "Member states have a duty to fulfil their obligations under international law and investigate the serious human rights violations that took place within the CIA programme.

"Despite increasing evidence, Europe still refuses to accept any responsibility for past illegal detentions and renditions. The support for this report today will hopefully increase the pressure on EU member states to cooperate fully with this investigation and take collective responsibility for past actions.

"State secrecy cannot stand in the way of access to justice and the disclosure of the truth."

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