5th Jun 2023

MEPs to join Council of Europe in CIA probe

The European Parliament is about to set up a temporary committee on alleged CIA flights and camps in Europe, joining four other bodies already gathering the relevant facts within the Council of Europe.

MEPs will vote on a mandate of the committee on Wednesday (18 January) and on its 46-strong composition on Thursday.

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The parliament's taskforce will "collect and analyse information," in an attempt to find out whether the CIA or other secret agencies have carried out abductions, detention or torture of terrorist suspects on EU and candidate countries' territory.

The investigation has so far been carried out primarily by the Council of Europe (CoE), and MEPs claim in their proposal that the new parliament committee should "liaise and cooperate as closely as possible" with the top human rights watchdog.

For its part, the CoE has welcomed the EU assembly's plans.

"The fact that the European Parliament will be adding its efforts to those of our assembly underlines the political importance of the enquiry and the necessity for common action," CoE parliamentary chief Rene van der Linden stated.

He said the same opinion was also shared by the Swiss politician Dick Marty, who leads the investigation on behalf of the CoE assembly, and is set to present an interim report on his findings next Tuesday (24 January) in Strasbourg.

Co-operation with Council of Europe

According to CoE officials, it will be up to MEPs to make sure their activities do not duplicate what Mr Marty is doing.

"The Council of Europe has far more financial resources to carry out such an investigation, and it is composed of 46 countries, including those in which the secret prison camps had been allegedly located, such as Romania or Ukraine," an official noted.

"However, the MEPs could make a great contribution in creating political pressure upon the EU institutions and decision-makers to provide facilities and information needed for the investigation," he added.

The Swiss investigator has previously requested cooperation with the EU's satellite centre and Eurocontrol, tackling European air traffic, but despite the positive response from the European Commission, EU member states have not yet agreed to fully release the requested flight details.

Meanwhile, there are three other CoE taskforces working on the issue, apart from Mr Marty's investigation, which began last November.

The organisation's secretary-general Terry Davies has initiated an enquiry into how member states are legally ensuring that the ban on torture is not violated on their territory.

The CoE has also commissioned a study by a group of constitutional experts to look into the legal aspects of "rendition flights" over European countries, allegedly carried out by the CIA.

Finally, the CoE's anti-torture committee is searching for possible breaches of the ban on torture in Europe.

EU governments condoned torture, Swiss investigator says

European governments have silently condoned the practice of abducting suspected terrorists and transporting them from European airports to countries in which torture is used, a Council of Europe investigation has revealed.


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