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Debates
Wednesday, 5 July 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Extraordinary rendition (debate)
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  Cem Özdemir, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Madam President-in-Office of the Council, Mr Vice-President of the Commission, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin with warm thanks for the outstanding work done by our rapporteur Mr Fava and also for that done by Mr Coelho, the Chairman of our Committee, although I would also, while I am on the subject, like to include in that expression of thanks Senator Dick Marty and Mr Terry Davis for the excellent cooperation with the Council of Europe and its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. I believe that this cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Parliament points the way for future cooperation in the defence of human rights.

Let me begin with a general observation. There are legal ways of handing prisoners over to foreign authorities. The transfers that this committee has had to consider amount to something more than the transport of a suspect from one location to another, for the practice that we have had to consider, far from being provided for in relevant legislation, actually circumvents the principles we sum up under the heading of the rule of law, namely the right to appropriate legal representation and to proper legal proceedings in court, and it is no more consistent with the stipulation that nobody may be extradited or taken to a state in which he would be exposed to the risk of being tortured or subjected to any other inhumane treatment.

Most of the victims of these transfers were illegally arrested from the very outset, some of them having been abducted, and all of them were taken from one country to another in an unlawful manner. Many of them have since disappeared. Those victims who testified to our committee spoke of torture and other inhumane treatment.

In the final analysis, it can be said that this practice was intended to ‘outsource’ torture and make it more difficult to establish where the responsibility for the violation of human rights lay. There are many who say that it cannot be determined with any precision how many people in total were arrested, abducted and taken to other countries, and they may be right, but, by the very same token, it is also true that we can regard enough instances in which human rights were violated as proven, and about these the report has things to say in very blunt terms.

The Chicago Convention allows private flights throughout European airspace without the need for further permission; the CIA exploited this by deliberately declaring its flights to be private, while many states – among them Member States of the European Union – acted on the basis of the Chicago Convention in letting the CIA do whatever they wanted. In so doing, these states disregarded other provisions of this Convention that gave them the right to search aircraft where there were reasonable grounds for suspicion that the plane was being used for illegal purposes.

The Member States of the European Union are bound by various international treaties, in particular – as made quite plain in Article 6 – by the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly emphasised that every state is under a positive obligation to intervene, investigate, and take legal action against the persons responsible, whenever people need to be protected from torture and other forms of inhumane treatment. It is perfectly clear that there were many Member States of the European Union in which this was not done. Italy has recently done what the law requires of it, and for that it deserves gratitude and respect, but I also – and I believe that I am speaking for the majority in this House when I say this – expect other countries to follow its example.

(Applause)

 
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