European human-rights body backs CIA claims
27 June 2006, STRASBOURG, FRANCE - Europe's top human rights watchdog on Tuesday accused European states of colluding with the United States in alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) activities on the continent.
27 June 2006
STRASBOURG, FRANCE - Europe's top human rights watchdog on Tuesday accused European states of colluding with the United States in alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) activities on the continent.
The Council of Europe said in a resolution that some countries were staging posts for illegal "extraordinary rendition" flights - the US practice of transporting detainees to other states for interrogation. Other countries let the US abduct suspects from their territory, it added.
The council's 46 member states are obliged to respond to the resolution which follows a report by the council's investigator into alleged US actions in Europe.
Swiss Senator Dick Marty said earlier this month that 14 European countries colluded with US intelligence in what he called a "spider's web" of secret flights and detention centres that violated international human-rights law.
The resolution, however, avoids mentioning any European country by name, but says that some states "knowingly colluded with the United States to carry out these unlawful operations."
European Union Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini, participating in the council's debate, urged member states to "conduct serious investigations" into the issue.
Frattini said that there was currently no hard evidence for collaboration by European governments, but the council's findings would require further investigation.
Frattini warned that member states' involvement in secret US actions could have "serious consequences" for national governments.
The council's resolution condemned member states that have denied their participation "in many cases without actually having carried out any inquiries or serious investigations."
A leading member of the council warned that suspected CIA activities on the continent are only the beginning of more secret US counter-terrorism measures to be revealed.
"There's more to come; it's not over yet," President of the Parliamentary Assembly Peter Schieder said.
Recent discoveries on US efforts to obtain information on global bank transfers linked to counter-terrorism measures had demonstrated that more clandestine US activities violating human rights are likely to have occurred, Schieder said.
US media reported last week that after the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the US Treasury Department began issuing subpoenas to obtain information on transfers collected by a Belgian financial cooperative.
Council Secretary General Terry Davis said that renditions have "definitely taken place in Europe" and criticized national governments for a lack of adequate legal and administrative safeguards to prevent violations of human rights.
Davis urged European countries to ensure better supervision of the activities of foreign secret services on their territory.
Council investigator Marty told reporters that if European secret services participated in a CIA detention on their soil, US authorities were justified in claiming that they had never violated national sovereignty.
Davis also called for new national laws in the field of aviation, arguing that authorities are currently unable to say whether their airspace has been used for rendition flights.
Meanwhile, leading human-rights groups on Tuesday called on European states to cease all involvement in renditions or illegal detentions and fully investigate alleged human-rights violations.
The independent Strasbourg-based council is Europe's top human- rights watchdog. It can name and shame countries but cannot launch legal proceedings.
A European Parliament special committee is also investigating the issue and plans to continue its work for at least another six months.
Subject: German news