Europe: those responsible for secret detentions in Poland and Romania must be held accountable

Jun 8, 2007 | News

The ICJ today called for criminal and other investigations in Poland and Romania, following a report which confirms that the highest authorities of both countries authorised CIA secret detentions on their territories.

Welcoming the report of Senator Dick Marty for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the ICJ called for the full accountability of those who authorised and were involved in secret detentions.

“Following this report, we have moved beyond the realm of speculation about secret detentions in Europe. Flat denials by the Polish and Romanian governments that secret detentions took place on their territories are no longer credible” said Nicholas Howen, Secretary-General of the ICJ.

“We must now move to accountability. I call on both Poland and Romania to establish independent investigations of these grave violations of human rights and to hold to account those involved, including through criminal investigations and trials. There can be no impunity for such complicity in systematic violations of human rights.”

The report presents a meticulously researched account of how secret detention centres operated in both countries, and names the Presidents of both Poland and Romania as having authorised the detentions, which formed part of a wider CIA programme of renditions and secret detentions of terrorist suspects. It also concludes that a 2001 secret NATO agreement allowed the CIA freedom to operate its system of renditions and secret detentions in Europe.

Secret detentions involve multiple violations of human rights, including the freedom from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to liberty and security of the person, and amount to enforced disappearances under customary international law. People held in secret detention have no means to contact relatives lawyers or others, and no means to exercise any legal remedy to challenge their detention or their treatment. They are effectively placed outside the protection of the law.

“Secret detentions are incompatible with the most basic principles of the rule of law” said Nicholas Howen. “All relevant institutions of state in Poland and Romania now have the responsibility to take action to preserve the rule of law, including by ensuring full investigation and accountability, through promptly initiated investigations that are independent, impartial, thorough and equipped with sufficient investigative powers to ensure accountability”

“At a regional level, there is a responsibility on NATO to disclose all documents relevant to renditions and secret detentions in Europe. Institutions of the European Union and Council of Europe must also act to prevent impunity of those involved in secret detentions.” said Nicholas Howen.

The existence of CIA secret detention centres has been acknowledged by President Bush, and recent transfers of “high-value detainees” demonstrate that the global programme of secret detentions continues. “This report focuses on two countries, but the system of renditions and secret detentions is a global one, and the evidence is that it continues to operate. The findings of today’s report should therefore be of global, as well as European concern” said Nicholas Howen.

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