Press release

CIA "directly responsible" in some cases for illegal activities in Europe , says Parliament

Justice and home affairs - 06-07-2006 - 15:52
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MEPs adopt interim report on alleged illegal CIA activity in Europe

The CIA was in some cases directly responsible for the "illegal seizure, removal, abduction and detention of terrorist suspects" in Europe, says an interim report adopted by the European Parliament. The report also criticises the involvement and complicity by certain EU States. MEPs have also given the responsible Temporary Committee the green light to continue its work for another six months. The report was adopted by 389 votes in favour, 137 against with 55 abstentions.

The CIA, noted the European Parliament in its report, has been "directly responsible" in some cases for the extraordinary rendition, "illegal seizure, removal, abduction and detention of terrorist suspects on the territory of Member States, accession and candidate countries"  - all of which constitute violations of fundamental rights under international law. As MEPs determined, the CIA - using aircraft hired by front companies - has made use of such practices for the illegal transfer of terrorist suspects to countries which frequently use torture during interrogations. With that in mind, MEPs call for extraordinary renditions to be "clearly prohibited" in international law.
Member States "may be held liable" for failure to comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, added MEPs. Under the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, EU countries have the positive obligation to prevent human rights violations on their territory -- and to carry out investigations "to ascertain whether their territory and their airspace" have been used in connection with human rights violations.
European governments taken to task
It is "implausible", say MEPs, "that certain European governments were not aware of the activities linked to extraordinary rendition taking place on their territory".  Such involvement or complicity, they argue, was likely on the part of Italian authorities in the 2003 abduction of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar by CIA agents in Milan; on the part of Bosnian authorities in the abduction and transfer of six Bosnian nationals or residents of Algerian origin to Guantanamo Bay and on the part of Swedish authorities, who expelled Egyptian nationals Mohammed Al Zary and Ahmed Agiza, handing them over to CIA agents for transfer to Egypt. Likewise, the EP "condemns" the 2003 abduction of German national Khaled El-Masri by the CIA and "deplores the reluctance of [the FYROM authorities] to confirm that El-Masri was in Skopje and was probably being held there before his rendition to Afghanistan by CIA agents." Measures allegedly taken by the FYROM government to investigate the matter, the Parliament points out, were "inadequate."
National governments are also criticized for their solicitation of "diplomatic assurances" against torture - a practice the EP labels as "unacceptable" and contradictory to EU policy guidelines on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. MEPs calls on EU countries to reject such assurances in the future.
At the same time, the EP noted that EU-Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism Gijs the Vries and CFSP High Representative Javier Solana had both told MEPs that they were not aware of any violation of national, European or international law by Member States cooperating with the CIA, adding that they were not competent to request relevant information from Member States.
EU-level action necessary
In several EU countries, reads the report, rules governing the activities of secret services seem "inadequate". As members point out, activities of foreign secret services on Member States' territory should be governed by more effective controls; to that effect, rules of cooperation should be established at EU level. Intelligence co-operation between EU countries and their allies, the EP argues, "should not be confused with the abandonment of sovereignty over European territory and airspace".
Citing "repeated violations" of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation during flights carried out by the CIA in Europe - and underlining that no European country has made consistent efforts to ensure that civilian aircraft are used for purposes compatible with international human rights - the Parliament calls on the Commission to harmonise national laws on the use of national airspace and airports. Current European legislation, MEPs conclude, is "totally inadequate". 
So far, no evidence of black sites in Europe
MEPs adopted an amendment tabled by the EPP-ED, in which they acknowledge that "the work of the temporary committee has so far not revealed any evidence or proof of the existence of secret prisons in the EU". The Parliament adds, however, that the committee will focus more closely on this subject in the months to come (AM 19). The issue was also the key point of the exchange of views between Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty and MEPs last Monday 3 July. 
Next steps
Having "shown the need to carry out further checks" - reads the report - the Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners (TDIP) will continue its work for the remainder of its twelve-month term. The Committee's final report, therefore, is due to appear by January / February 2007.
MEPs plan, among other things, to invite the Secretary-General of NATO to a hearing to clarify the possible involvement of SFOR and KFOR forces in the illegal detention of the six Bosnians who still remain in Guantanamo. MEPs again call for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo, asking Member States to "take a proactive role" in finding a solution for the detainees.
Finally, most amendments tabled by the EPP-ED and UEN groups -- aimed to soften the accusations against the CIA and the US government (and to state that there is insufficient evidence of renditions) -- were rejected (example: AM 20, 32, 33, 38, 42). It is for this reason that many members of these two groups decided to vote against the report or abstained.
REF.: 20060628IPR09342