EU envoy speaks out on Guantanamo-style prison

25th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - The US ran a detention centre in Kosovo that resembled "a smaller version of Guantanamo," the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner charged Friday in an interview with France's Le Monde newspaper.

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - The US ran a detention centre in Kosovo that resembled "a smaller version of Guantanamo," the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner charged Friday in an interview with France's Le Monde newspaper.

Alvaro Gil-Robles told the daily that he had inspected the centre, located within the US military Camp Bondsteel, in 2002 to investigate reports of extrajudicial arrests by NATO-led peacekeepers.

The conditions there "shocked" him, he said.

He described the facility as "small wooden huts ringed by tall barbed wire", each housing "between 15 and 20 prisoners... wearing orange boiler-suits like the ones worn by Guantanamo inmates".

President George W. Bush's government has been under fire from human rights organisations and lawyers for keeping suspects detained in the US "war on terror" locked up without charges and without access to lawyers for years in a military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Most recently, the United States has also been accused of maintaining a network of so-called "black sites" -- CIA detention centres in foreign countries, notably in Asia and in eastern Europe -- where suspects are subjected to vigorous interrogation techniques that critics say amount to torture.

Gil-Robles said he had no evidence that Camp Bondsteel was linked to the alleged secret CIA operations.

"But I do believe that an explanation should be given for this base in Kosovo, as for other potentially suspect sites" in Europe, he told the paper.

The rights envoy said he had decided to speak out following reports of the CIA prisons in eastern Europe and the launch of an investigation into whether they exist by the Council of Europe, a pan-European body guaranteeing human rights in its 46 member states.

Camp Bondsteel, a base located south of Pristina and operated exclusively by the US military, acts as the main detention centre for KFOR, the NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping force deployed in the UN-administered province in June 1999.

According to Le Monde, detainees at Camp Bondsteel had no access to a lawyer, and did not fall under any legal jurisdiction.

"Among the detainees there were bearded men. Some were reading the Koran," Gil-Robles told the paper.

"A female US soldier, on the prison staff, told me that she had just arrived after having served at the Guantanamo base," he said.

The envoy said he had asked for the facilities to be dismantled, and had received assurances the following year that this had been done.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

 

 

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