European States Legally Responsible for Rendition Abuses, According to New Amnesty International Report
According to a new report, Partners in Crime: Europe’s Role in U.S. Renditions, released today Amnesty International charges that European nations that colluded with the United States government to illegally render detainees are legally responsible for human rights abuses carried out in renditions.
The report details cases involving seven European states – including four European Union (EU) members - and analyzes the various levels of involvement by these countries. It also explains how states are complicit under international law for these violations. Rendition is an unlawful practice in which individuals have been illegally detained and secretly flown to third countries where they may be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment and “disappearance.”
“Several European nations have been the United States’ partner in crime,” said Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director. “They provided airports and airspace for CIA flights linked to renditions and others participated in apprehending people destined for rendition or in the interrogation of such detainees. The bottom line is that without Europe’s assistance, fewer men would be denied basic rights and fewer families would be devastated emotionally and financially distraught by the ‘disappearance’ of their father, son, grandfather, brother, uncle or nephew.”
Countries highlighted in the report include Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and EU members Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom are all implicated in the cases detailed in the report. In each case study examined in the report, men have been bundled onto planes and transferred abroad, without due process, to detention sites where they all say they have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated. While the way in which each state is implicated differs – from allowing airspace airports on their territory to be used, to participating in the arrest or abduction of people and handing them over to U.S. government agents – their action, or lack of action, contravenes their obligations under international law.
Publication of AI’s report follows the release last week of Senator Dick Marty’s Council of Europe hard-hitting draft report and marks the launch of Amnesty International’s campaign to end rendition in the region.
Amnesty International urges that the complicity of EU member states in the U.S.-led renditions program be addressed at the European Summit meeting tomorrow. The meeting is an important opportunity for the EU to commit to ending renditions on European soil.
The rendition program has also highlighted the fact that U.S. CIA can operate covertly in Europe outside the rule of law and without accountability. The EU must ensure the development of a regulatory framework governing the activities of national and foreign intelligence agencies.
“European governments who are in lock step with the United States in these extralegal transfers, abductions and ‘disappearances’ can no longer take a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach to the crimes being committed on their sovereign territory,” said Jumana Musa, Advocacy Director for Domestic Human Rights and International Justice. “The growing body of evidence implicating European governments in these human rights violations must be addressed.”
Under international law, states that facilitate transfers to countries where they know or should know that there is a risk of serious human rights abuses are complicit in these abuses and individuals complicit in abductions, torture or “disappearances” should be held criminally responsible.
Amnesty International is also calling for the Council of Europe to continue its work toward uncovering this practice by setting up a commission of inquiry and working to ensure that any shortcomings in legislation are addressed regionally and by states individually.
I liked the part about being implicit for ‘providing airspace’.