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13th Aug 2022

EU states breach human rights law in CIA probe

  • Terry Davis - EU states Italy and Belgium are in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (Photo: European Commission)

Five European countries have failed to deliver answers to the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog, on questions about secret CIA prisons and rendition flights on their territories.

By not replying, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy, San Marino and Georgia are all in breach of European human rights law, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe (CoE) Terry Davis said on Wednesday (22 February).

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Referring to the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights, he indicated "The deadline for my inquiry related to allegations concerning secret detentions and the transportation of secretly detained persons in or through Council of Europe member states expired at midnight."

"I remind all five countries that their failure to reply is a clear breach of the convention, which underpins the defence of human rights across the continent," Mr Davis said.

The breach should be rectified "as a matter of urgency" he added.

Last November, Mr Davis asked member states of the 46-nation body to detail what measures they had taken to ensure that people were not subject to "forced disappearances, secret detentions and extraordinary renditions to places where they may be tortured or exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment."

Investigations from all angles

Allegations of illegal CIA activities in Europe were first voiced in November last year, after a Washington Post report said that the CIA used camps in Eastern European countries to interrogate terrorist suspects.

Later on, the NGO Human Rights Watch reconfirmed the allegations, adding that interrogation methods amounting to torture could have been used.

Washington has neither confirmed nor denied the allegations over secret prisons in Europe but has denied using or condoning torture.

The CoE secretary general's investigation on alleged CIA activities works in tandem with another CoE inquiry Europe, led by Swiss senator Dick Marty.

Last month, Mr Marty concluded in a first assessment that EU governments had silently condoned the practice of abducting and transporting prisoners from European airports to countries in which torture is used.

Mr Marty is expected to meet with a European Parliament temporary committee of inquiry into the claims that CIA espionage, abduction of prisoners and other CIA business in Europe was known to EU member state or candidate state governments.

Germany to investigate CIA mistake abduction

Meanwhile, Munich state prosecutors have launched an investigation to determine whether Germany secretly helped the CIA in the abduction of one of its citizens, writes le Monde.

Lebanese-born German citizen Khaled al-Masri was kidnapped by the CIA in Macedonia in 2004 and was held in a US "renditions" jail in Afghanistan after being mistaken for a terrorist suspect.

The former German government has been accused of complicity in the kidnapping, with Mr Masri claiming that a German agent interrogated him at the US prison in Kabul.

Members of the former governemnt have however denied to accusations of complicity in the kidnapping.

EU states did run secret CIA jails, new report says

Polish and Romanian security officials have confirmed to Europe's human rights watchdog that the two countries hosted secret and illegal CIA prisons, while the watchdog also says that EU member states were aware of CIA kidnappings and rendition flights, UK daily the Guardian has reported.

Greek PM embroiled in spyware scandal

Greece has become embroiled in a wiretapping scandal that led to the resignation of its intelligence chief as well as the Greek prime minister's top aide.

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