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Europe: Govts Must End Renditions, Detentions

Europe: Governments Must End Renditions, Illegal Detentions

(Strasbourg) – European governments must take action against renditions and illegal detentions, Human Rights Watch said today.

As the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe prepares today to debate Dick Marty’s finding of a CIA “spider’s web” of renditions and detentions involving European states, Human Rights Watch and three other human rights organizations set out a program of 12 recommendations to European governments. The goal of the program is to ensure that the violations of fundamental human rights caused by renditions and illegal detentions are not allowed to happen again.

“European governments should be ashamed of their participation in illegal detentions and must end their involvement at once,” said Joanne Mariner, director of the Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program at Human Rights Watch. “They should also press the United States to end these practices immediately.”

Marty, a Swiss senator, was tasked by the Council of Europe to investigate the U.S.-initiated program of renditions and illegal detentions, in which some European states have been complicit. The program has meant that people have been detained and transferred abroad, without any legal process, to places where they have been subjected to serious violations of their human rights, including torture. European states that have participated or acquiesced in this system have breached their most fundamental human rights obligations.

Human Rights Watch calls on European governments to cease all involvement in renditions or illegal detentions, and make unequivocal public representations to the U.S. government to end these practices.

In light of the findings of investigations by Marty and others, the four organizations call for independent public inquiries to be established with appropriate mandates, powers and resources to investigate government involvement in renditions and secret detentions. They call for victims of rendition to receive effective remedies and compensation, and for the justice authorities in each state to ensure that all intelligence officials, both foreign and national, involved in illegal activity be brought to justice.

The organizations recommend that governments put in place a legal framework to prevent renditions and illegal detentions, by reviewing the law on military bases, and changing aviation policy to ensure that aircraft do not transport prisoners through the state without authorisation. States should not return people to countries where they face a risk of torture, even if they receive diplomatic assurances that the person will not be ill-treated following return.

The Council of Europe and the European Parliament must also continue to investigate and monitor this important issue, and need adequate powers and resources to do so.

Human Rights Watch believes that European governments’ compliance with the 12 recommendations in today’s statement, also signed by Amnesty International, the Association for the Prevention of Torture and the International Commission of Jurists, is essential to uphold human rights and the rule of law in Europe.

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