Wednesday

20th Jun 2018

Fresh Amnesty report confirms illegal CIA practices

  • Amnesty International says civilian airlines act as front companies fro the CIA (Photo: European Commission)

The US has consistently used civilian front companies to conceal secret prisoner transports taking off from European airports, human rights watchdog Amnesty International has said.

In the report "USA - Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and 'disappearance'" published on Wednesday (5 April), Amnesty claims to have registered over a thousand flights that can be linked to the US intelligence organisation, the CIA.

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

Most of the flights have taken off from European airports and all of them have been carried out by private airlines which were used more or less permanently as front companies.

Using these privately contracted planes, the CIA has exploited a legal loophole that allows private aircraft to land at foreign airports without having to inform local authorities – unlike government or military planes -, the human rights watchdog states.

Amnesty also claims to have records of another 600 flights made by planes used temporarily by the CIA.

Extraordinary renditions - transfer of prisoners from one country to another bypassing due judicial and administrative rules - has been used consistently by the US in the context of the "war on terror" the NGO concludes.

Suspected prison camps in Eastern Europe

In its report, the human rights watchdog repeats suspicions that the US intelligence ran secret prison camps in Eastern Europe.

According to Amnesty, three Yemeni men abducted and mistreated by the US were probably held in eastern Europe, although the report lacks concrete proof as to where precisley the camps were.

"Their captors went to great lengths to conceal their location from the men, but circumstantial evidence such as climate, prayer schedules, and flight times to and from the site suggest that they may have been held in eastern Europe or central Asia," Anne FitzGerald, a senior adviser with Amnesty, said in a statement.

"Without further information from the US government and European authorities, it's impossible to verify exactly where," she added.

Torture most probably condoned

Amnesty International in its conclusion also criticises so-called "diplomatic assurances" on torture.

States who have rendered suspected terrorists to third countries have said they were given promises from the third country officials not to submit prisoners to torture.

The Amnesty report states that those promises have been broken on various occasions.

"With or without diplomatic assurances, this practise is not about bringing people to justice, it leads to torture and puts lives at risk," the report states.

The 15,000-word report includes testimony from prisoners that have been rendered to other countries, claiming they were beaten with sticks, made to stand for days on end, hung upside-down while the soles of their feet were beaten, or deprived of food or sleep.

"They promptly tore his fingernails out and he started telling things," a former director of the CIA's counter-terrorism centre says in the report, describing what happened to one detainee who had been rendered to Egypt.

Investigation

UK unlawfully copying data from EU police system

The British government is abusing EU travel security systems, making and using illegal copies of outdated information, and putting innocent people at risk of being red-flagged.

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

The new EU privacy rules are touted as a global 'gold standard' - but Mexico's former data commissioner warns some nations are far from ready.

New GDPR enforcer says complaints imminent

The European Data Protection Board is a new EU body tasked with enforcing the EU's privacy laws with powers to impose massive fines. Its head Andrea Jelinek told reporters complaints against companies are expected to be immediate.

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.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us