It should come as no surprise that the interim report of investigator Dick Marty, on behalf of the Council of Europe into rendition in Europe, was overwhelmingly bad news for states and citizens alike. The report, out today, had a number of startling points in it.
[from EU Observer]
"It has been proved – and in fact never denied – that individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and transported…in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered…torture," Mr Marty announced.
"It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware of the 'rendition'
Mr Marty added there was "a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of ‘relocation’ or ‘outsourcing’ of torture."
However, at this stage, there was no formal, irrefutable evidence of the existence of secret CIA detention centres in Romania, Poland or any other country.
[From the FT]
“Individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and all rights, and transported to different destinations in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture,” he said. “If governments resort to gangster-style methods, I say no,” he added.
It is pretty clear at this stage that the guy has found serious and unchallenged evidence that the process of rendition is actively taking place across Europe and that while the issue of secret jails in Romania and Poland remains unfinished their is ample evidence of the EU being used as a stopover.
The fallout is far from over for those at the top who face the prospect of being, rather embarassing politically, called before an ad-hoc commission of the EU Parliament to answer questions on the use of EU airports to facilitate the process.
Marty's report has a very helpful timeline and background to the whole issue and I think you should all read it, from it is the reaction on December 7 of UNHuman Rights Commissioner to the process of rendition, which the US freely admits to doing.
[From Marty's Report:]
Mention should also be made of the stand taken by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Louise Arbour, who said in an article in Le Monde published on 7 December 2005 that secret detention was a form of torture in itself, for the person detained, who was at the mercy of the detaining authorities, and, worse still, for the families, who were faced with a situation that amounted to that of a missing person.
Just a small mention for our own carry on in Shannon Airport,
The head of the Irish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly informed me of the many questions to the government in the Irish Parliament, and of the replies received. In substance, the government expressed total condemnation of the practice of “extraordinary renditions” and stated that it had never authorised any overflights of Irish territory by chartered aircraft for that purpose.
Last month RTÉ revealed that more than 40 flights through Shannon Airport were made by aircraft reportedly used on numerous occasions by the CIA to abduct suspects and send them abroad.
The report simply repeats the governments position that rendition has not taken place and that no authorisation has been given for it to happen. There are still clearly questions about the CIA planes that operate in secrecy out of Shannon and other EU airport s. RTE are not the first, nor the last, to spot CIA chartered planes around the airport and to this day we have little or no way of knowing what was going on. Since theses planes are under such intenses suspicion and investigation it seems right to remain unconvinced.
Rather interestingly Marty also has alot to say on the general prosecution of the War on Terror by the current administration;
These statements, which have in fact been corroborated by indiscretions from officials still serving, clearly confirm that the current US Administration seems to start from the principle that the principles of the rule of law and human rights are incompatible with efficient action against terrorism.
The relocation of prison camps to Guantanamo and elsewhere indicates that even American legal standards are seen as obstacles by the US Administration. “Extraordinary rendition” and secret detention facilitate the use of degrading treatment and torture.
As early as March 2005, in a CBS interview, Mr Scheuer had admitted knowing that suspects were tortured in Egypt, adding that it was "very convenient" finding "someone else to do your dirty work"
Anyway the thrust at this stage is clear, you may look on terror one way or another, but in accepting that it is a problem to be solved does not commit one necessarily to the commitment that the product of centuries of toil, two total wars and millions of lives should be sacrificed to fight an enemy which would see democratic liberty, rights, responsibilities and liberties destroyed anyway. From this it is clear that there is a smoking problem, not one which reflects favourably on commitments to the preservation of human rights and rule of law.
Im not suggesting terrorists need to be treated softly softly, we do however need to be able to trust that the systems in place to try to secure us and detain terrorists are fully compatible with international law, international human rights law and Geneva Conventions. We have no reason to cease being the west to fight a fight with terror. Last time I looked, we were supposed to be on the side of rights, laws, liberties and dignities.
In this I shall leave some of the last words to Martys report.
The fact that detention and interrogation centres have been relocated to other countries is proof that the authorities are fully aware that the methods used are incompatible with the American legal system. Europe must clearly and unambiguously declare that it refuses outright to tolerate such doings in its territory, or anywhere else.
It is the only way to begin to fight a war on terror that has any serious meaning for the preservation of rights and liberty. If the governments feel that the fight needs to be dirty and extral-legal then it is the people who should decide. Up until that point, there has been no authorisation given by the people to contravene international law in our name. Freedom from torture is not an alienable human right. It is natural and entirely attached to everybody.
Update: Many Angry Gerbils has a very long and quite good piece on the saga here.
Including a quote from Marty that I missed;
‘Does this mean that torture is so easy to use in this day and age? Is it enough for one's own secret services not to be physically present at the place of interrogation and to pretend to have no official knowledge of this practice to state that the law is not being broken?’
Categories: Torture, Marty, Rendition, Europe, America, CIA