EU lawmakers approve critical CIA report

14th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 February 2007, Brussels/Strasbourg (dpa) - European Union lawmakers on Wednesday approved a final report which slams EU governments for tolerating or assisting the United States' practice of secret detentions of terrorist suspects. More than 10 European states, including Britain, Poland, Italy and Germany aided or knew about the US secret service CIA's clandestine programme of taking terrorism suspects to other countries for interrogation, Euro MPs said in their report. At least 1,245 CIA-operated fligh

14 February 2007

Brussels/Strasbourg (dpa) - European Union lawmakers on Wednesday approved a final report which slams EU governments for tolerating or assisting the United States' practice of secret detentions of terrorist suspects.

More than 10 European states, including Britain, Poland, Italy and Germany aided or knew about the US secret service CIA's clandestine programme of taking terrorism suspects to other countries for interrogation, Euro MPs said in their report.

At least 1,245 CIA-operated flights flew over European airspace or stopped over at airports in Europe after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US, Euro MPs concluded.

However, members of the European Parliament softened passages in report which criticise their governments of turning a blind eye on the so-called rendition flights or for lack of co-operation with the committee's inquiry.

The report was adopted with 382 votes in favour, 256 against and 745 abstentions.

The vote in the parliament's full plenary in Strasbourg wraps up a year-long investigation by a special committee of the EU assembly.

MEPs backtracked from calling for sanctions against member states for human rights violations, saying it should be up to the European Commission and EU ministers to decide on legal action.

In addition, they softened earlier criticism against national governments, including Britain, Italy, Germany and Portugal.

However, the report says that the existence of a secret CIA prison camp in Poland cannot be excluded - a disputed paragraph that had been removed from the text last month.

Poland firmly denies the allegation.

Ahead of the vote, socialist and liberal MEPs argued that the inquiry had exposed a string of abductions incompatible with EU human rights standards.

Conservative deputies, however, warned that the report accused EU governments of complicity without sufficient proof.

"The testimonies we received are facts and the facts speak for themselves," said Italian Socialist MEP Claudio Fava, who drafted the report, adding: "This is a vigorous analysis of five years of excessive abuses."

Conservative MEP Jas Gawronski of Italy countered that the report issued "a blanket condemnation of the secret services as a whole" and that it was "predicated on the assumption that there is one chief guilty party and that is the USA."

EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini told MEPs that security and fundamental freedoms "can never be played off one against the other" and urged EU member states to investigate the charges.

He also called for more EU-US cooperation on security issues and on the respect for individual rights.

German minister for Europe, Guenther Gloser, said the US must close down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba. The EU would not accept any compromise on human rights, he added.

Germany currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

EU sources said that some Euro MPs have been pressured by their capitals to water down passages in the report which also slams their governments for lack of co-operation with the committee's inquiry.

The Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights watchdog, said last year that European governments have violated human rights treaties by helping the US to transport terror suspects to other countries for interrogation.

Clandestine detention centres, secret flights via or from Europe to countries where suspects could face torture, or extraordinary renditions would all breach the continent's human rights conventions.

In Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain prosecutors are now investigating suspected cases of extraordinary rendition.

US President George W Bush last September for the first time acknowledged that the CIA was running secret prisons for holding and interrogating high-level al-Qaeda figures that had been captured since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

However, Bush did not give in to European calls to make the location of the camps public.

Allegations that CIA agents shipped prisoners through European airports to secret detention centres, including compounds in Eastern Europe, were first reported in November 2005.

The 48-member parliamentary committee started its probe in January 2006. It was working in tandem with an inquiry by the Council of Europe. However, the committee has no power to sanction European governments.

DPA

Subject: German news

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