Thursday

19th Jul 2018

EU nations face mounting pressure over CIA black sites

Pressure is mounting on those member states accused of hosting CIA rendition and torture camps to be held accountable for their role.

MEPs and the European Commission in Strasbourg on Wednesday (17 December) roundly condemned the torture of Al-Qaeda suspects carried out by CIA operatives on EU soil in the wake of 9-11, praised the US for exposing the abuse, and called upon Washington to shut down Guantanamo Bay.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

  • A handful of EU member states are accused of helping the CIA run its rendition and prison programmes (Photo: wikipedia)

“All concerned member states should conduct independent and impartial investigations to establish the facts with regard to CIA activities,” said EU home affairs commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulus.

“One hundred and thirty-six detainees still remain in the Guantanamo detention facility, including detainees who have neither been brought to trial nor have yet been cleared for release.”

German centre-right MEP Monika Hohlmeier said the US' image had been tarnished. "To use torture and brutal interrogation techniques in order to guarantee security is not something that can be defended."

"Those responsible should be held accountable. We demand a full investigation and clear answers from EU member states," said centre-left Slovenia deputy Tanja Fajon.

But Benedetto Della Vedova, a top official in Italy’s ministry of foreign affairs, and speaking on the behalf of the Italian EU presidency, said the US is an important partner in the fight against terrorism.

He also noted that intelligence issues lie beyond EU powers and that it may not launch an inquiry into a member states "presumed" involvement in the CIA programme.

“The security of each member state is the competence of the member state, that means that the intelligence agencies in member states and their work fall outside the scope of the EU and its institutions,” he said.

The CIA-led torture scandal re-erupted following the partial release of a US Senate report last week seen as the first official admission of events that occurred between late 2001 and January 2009.

At least 54 governments reportedly participated in the CIA’s secret detention and extraordinary rendition programme.

Among them those said to be involved are Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Spain, and the UK.

Lithuania, Romania, and Poland are accused of hosting the US sponsored detention centers where detainees underwent so-called enhanced interrogation techniques in order to extract intelligence information.

"To their eternal shame, we know that all member states were to some extent involved, some more, some less, but all were aware of the main elements of the programme,” said Dutch liberal Sophia In’t Veld.

All have denied the allegations or launched non-conclusive investigations over the years despite evidence provided by human rights groups, European Parliament-led inquiries, and damning judgements handed out by the European Court of Human Rights.

In July, the Strasbourg-based court “found that Poland had cooperated in the preparation and execution of the CIA rendition” after two former detainees provided convincing arguments on allegations of torture and ill-treatment at a Polish CIA black site.

But it is publication of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that has since seen former top national officials in Poland and Romania come forward.

Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski, after the report’s publication, said his country had hosted a secret CIA prison under his leadership.

"The Americans conducted their activities in such secrecy, that it raised our concern. Polish authorities acted to end these activities and they were stopped under pressure from Poland,” he told Polish media.

His admission was followed a day later by Ioan Talpes, who headed Romania’s Foreign Intelligence Service from 2000 to 2004.

The report’s publication also coincided with the shut down of US-run prison in Afghanistan and the release of two detainees who had been held captive since 2002 without a trial.

Talps said discussions had indeed taken place with Americans on where the CIA agents could operate but said they were unaware that people were being detained.

International law prohibits torture in all circumstances with the Americans having prosecuted Japanese interrogators for “waterboarding” US prisoners during World War II.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Polish PM defends judicial witch-hunt

Poland's judicial purge was meant to punish former communists, its PM has said, in an angry EU debate that saw him ultimately promise to respect EU court rulings.

EU leaders still in search of migration plan

Select EU leaders met amid rising tension over migration, with Italy's PM, who had threatened to boycott the summit, putting forward a new plans to stop boats from leaving Libya.

Feature

EU and Turkey fight for 'lost generation'

Some 300,000 school-age Syrian children in Turkey are not enrolled in classes. Fears they may end up in sweatshops or forced to beg have triggered efforts by the EU, Unicef, and the Turkish government to keep them in school.

News in Brief

  1. Spain withdraws arrest warrant for Catalan separatists
  2. EU readies counter-measures on possible US car tariffs
  3. EU Commission launches probe into Hungary's 'Stop Soros' law
  4. EU warns Turkey on anti-terror bill
  5. Report: EU secretly scorns UK's Brexit paper
  6. Hungary: UN treaty could 'inspire millions' of migrants
  7. Nato reacts after Trump disparages Montenegro
  8. EU bank deals blow to Iran arms deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us