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Procedure : 2012/2033(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0266/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0266/2012

Debates :

PV 10/09/2012 - 23
CRE 10/09/2012 - 23

Votes :

PV 11/09/2012 - 10.6
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0309

Debates
Monday, 10 September 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

23. Alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the report by Hélène Flautre, on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, on the alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA: Follow-up of the European Parliament TDIP Committee report (2012/2033(INI)) (A7-0266/2012).

 
  
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  Hélène Flautre, rapporteur. (FR) Madam President, during those nine months of work, with the confidence and valuable support of all key players, including – and I say this most emphatically – MEPs, who never gave up the fight for truth and justice, we were able to gain an awareness of the extent of the elements incriminating Europe and the Member States in the implementation of the CIA’s secret programme.

All these key players are categorical and all the elements, that is to say, the research carried out by the Council of Europe, the special UN rapporteurs, the Red Cross, national and international human rights organisations, investigative journalists, the testimony of the victims, of their lawyers and of CIA agents, concur: the Member States have to answer for their active or passive complicity in crimes of torture, secret detention and enforced disappearance.

For nine months, I was able to see the patently obvious limitations of the investigative steps taken by the Member States and their stubborn determination to conceal the truth: lack of political will, prevalence of national interests, narrow remits for investigations, abuse of state secrecy, lack of transparency, restriction of the rights of victims and of their lawyers. The imagination of national authorities knows no bounds.

In putting this report to the vote, Parliament aims to take a decisive step towards putting an end to the denial of reality, and hence of justice, which has characterised the strategy of the EU Member States for 11 years now.

Through its recommendations to the Member States, the Council and the Commission, the report expresses a simple and clear will: every effort must be made to ensure that rigorous, independent and transparent investigations, capable of determining responsibilities and obtaining justice for the victims, are concluded.

The European Union and the Member States owe it, first and foremost, to the victims, but they also owe it to Europe’s citizens, who are entitled to demand from our institutions, from their institutions, respect for democratic values and the rule of law on which they are based. To be effective, we had to be concrete and specific and to stay abreast of the issue so that we could identify the best levers to help justice move forward.

We therefore chose to focus on the issue of secret prisons on EU territory. Thanks to the excellent cooperation of Eurocontrol, which I thank, and to the visits and meetings of the Members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) (rapporteur, shadow rapporteurs), today there are grounds for the report to adopt recommendations of relevance to Poland, Lithuania and Romania in particular. These three countries are now before the European Court of Human Rights facing allegations of torture, secret detention and failure to investigate effectively.

Your rapporteur is convinced, more than ever, that only a coordinated European approach aimed at supporting Member States can break the code of silence.

The challenge for the Council is to take the matter in hand officially and to put it on its work agenda, to acknowledge its responsibility and, finally, to apologise.

The Commission, while having taken note of the facts, has still not mobilised all its justice and human rights resources and instruments to ensure that Member States comply with their fundamental obligations. It must take initiatives to uphold the principle of mutual assistance and solidarity.

Commissioner Reding, the report invites us, you, the Council, the victims and all those who seek the truth to return to this House in a year’s time.

Last week, Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen resident in Germany who had been detained without trial for five years at Guantánamo, again came to Parliament to speak about his ordeal, still very current, and to seek justice for the victims.

Commissioner Reding, if Mr Kurnaz has the strength to come back in a year’s time, will we be able to tell him that facts have been established, that responsibilities have been acknowledged, and that we can, finally, apologise to him on behalf of the European Union?

(Applause)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GEORGIOS PAPASTAMKOS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, I, too, would like to thank the rapporteur, Ms Flautre, for her commitment and for having the courage to take this matter in hand. It is a very delicate matter, but it is also one that concerns values we hold dear.

The Commission has constantly repeated that the practices which are referred to as renditions constitute a serious violation of several fundamental rights: unlawful arrest, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment. The fight against terrorism cannot justify such unacceptable practices. The full respect of human rights is not negotiable.

The Commission has always stressed that it is up to the Member States concerned not only to commence but also to continue in-depth, independent and impartial investigations to establish the truth. This is a positive obligation deriving from the European Convention on Human Rights in order to establish responsibilities and enable the victims to obtain compensation for such damage. That is also why you have quoted the Court, which is putting these questions on the table.

Since 2005, when the allegations were first raised, the Commission has been in contact with those Member States that were said to have hosted secret detention sites. As regards aviation policy, the Commission drew the necessary conclusions in the context of its communication on civil and business aviation of January 2008, and new rules on the procedures applicable to flight plans for the Single European Sky entered into force on 1 January 2009. They provide an additional means of monitoring the actual movement of aircraft, and I have heard with great interest that the contacts with the institution on this subject are very positive.

The report also refers to the necessity of reinforcing the human rights compliance of judicial cooperation in criminal matters. On this subject, the Commission is determined to ensure that Member States actually do so when they apply the EU instruments for judicial cooperation in criminal matters and that Member States comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights when they implement those instruments. As I have often said before this Parliament, it is when European law is applied that the Charter automatically applies, so in these cases, the Charter does apply. This concerns not only the internal aspects of judicial cooperation but also its external aspects.

In this regard, the Commission underlines the importance of the entry into force on 1 February 2010 of the two EU-USA agreements on extradition and mutual legal assistance. Both clarify and unify the legal framework of judicial cooperation in criminal matters with the USA, and they clearly refer to the need to fully respect fundamental rights.

As regards the national and institutional deficiencies underlined by the report, let me recall that the current treaties do not empower the European Union to establish a general mechanism addressing human rights violations. However, I can assure you that the Commission is vigilant in ensuring that the Charter applies within the scope of EU law, as I explained on the question of judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

As regards the oversight of intelligence and security services, you are well aware that this is a very sensitive area which comes under the responsibility of the Member States. The Commission has repeatedly recalled that cooperation between the intelligence services must not in any way go against or overrule the relevant EU instruments in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. No cooperation between intelligence services can undermine the full respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law. I think Parliament is in agreement with me that the only way to fight efficiently against terrorism is to apply our basic rules on which the European Union has built its very being.

The Commission is ready to cooperate actively with Parliament to ensure that what happened within the framework of the so-called CIA rendition programme will never occur again.

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. – Mr President, given the EU’s well-publicised commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, the fact of highly credible allegations of complicity and CIA abduction, disappearance, rendition and torture after 9/11 is already bad enough, but the continuing refusal to investigate properly is compounding the original failings. Delays and deliberate obstructions to independent and transparent national inquiries are an affront to liberty and justice. It is a travesty to claim state secrecy in order to perpetuate impunity.

The EU, without being obstructed by the niceties, must have the guts and self-respect to enforce accountability for its own Members’ involvement in human rights abuses. We have just appointed our first human rights chief in Stavros Lambrinidis, but the EU’s credibility in urging respect for fundamental rights throughout the world is badly undermined by the justified suspicion that some of our Member States rode roughshod over international law and civil liberties, so we must clean house in order to advocate and promote the values that we espouse in our external partnerships.

This is not only principled but necessary. Look at the situation in Libya. People allegedly subject to rendition and torture with the collusion of Western governments and intelligence services are now senior in the post-Gaddafi administration. Tony Blair has a hell of a lot to answer for. So, of course, does George Bush, the instigator, with his advisers, of the dismal decade of Guantánamo legal black holes and torture.

The Democrat presidents have not sufficiently respected the law either. President Obama has disappointed in his failure to close Guantánamo or shine a light on the past, and in his persistence with unfair military commissions, which could impose the death penalty, as well as his practice of assassinations by drone strikes.

I firmly believe the truth will eventually out, even if it takes decades, but justice delayed is justice denied. The Council and Commission must join Parliament in forcing some light to be shed on this terrible period, for example, by supporting the UN special rapporteurs.

 
  
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  Michèle Striffler, on behalf of the PPE Group. (FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, every day in Parliament, we make every effort to enable the European Union to become an area of freedom, security and justice that is even more effective, closer to, and serving, Europe’s citizens.

The European Union is an area in which the rule of law must prevail and human rights must be protected, defended and respected. These are the values that motivate my commitment and to which the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) is politically and firmly committed.

Mr President, tomorrow, at a time when we will be commemorating the 11th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, it is more necessary than ever to recall that Europe is still living under the threat posed by terrorist groups. This tragic date reminds us that we cannot let up in our efforts to ensure the security of 500 million European citizens.

I believe that freedom and security must be the two pillars on which our anti-terrorist policies must be based. In this regard, I should like to remind you that effective measures to counter terrorism and the protection of human rights are complementary and mutually reinforcing goals.

Mr President, secret detentions without charge or trial are contrary to our values and, in future, it must quite simply be impossible for them to take place on EU territory. No one shall be deprived of access to justice or of the right to a fair trial, and all citizens must be guaranteed the right to due process.

 
  
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  Tanja Fajon, on behalf of the S&D Group. (SL) Mr President, if anyone here is still wondering why, after all these years, Parliament is still dealing with the issue of illegal kidnappings, detention and torture of prisoners by the CIA on European soil, may I remind you that contempt for, and violation of, human rights never become outdated.

Our work has not been easy. Member States have been reluctant to disclose information under the mantle of state secrecy. Tomorrow, when we proceed with the vote, we will have to give a voice and satisfaction to people whose warnings have been rudely ignored for more than a decade.

We will remember the victims of a tragic event. I call upon you to remember all those victims who have suffered and who are still suffering because of a policy that was created in response to the events of 11 years ago. Likewise, I would like us to remember that, so far, no Member State has fulfilled its obligations in terms of protecting, upholding and respecting international human rights and preventing their further violation.

We therefore call on the Commission to support and monitor national procedures for the establishment of the responsibility of Member States. That is the only way we will be able to restore our reputation as the guardian and defender of universal human rights standards and that is the only way we will be able to demand, with a straight face, that candidate countries and neighbouring countries respect high standards of protection of human rights and the democratic legal order.

 
  
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  Sophia in 't Veld, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, I will start by noting that, as so often during these difficult debates, the Council is absent. Apparently, it has no interest in cases of human rights violations that took part partly in its name.

First of all, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, who has done an excellent job. It is, unfortunately, not the first time and probably also not the last time we will be debating this. The Member States are in denial, and if I listen to my esteemed PPE colleague, the PPE Group is also in denial.

What has happened cannot be justified. If the same acts had been committed by other countries – for example, Arab countries – we would have a full room here; the Council would be here and we would be very quick to condemn those actions. But because they have been committed with the support of European countries, we do not feel that we have to answer to the world.

We have lost moral authority and credibility, and I think there is a bitter irony in the fact that we help to unseat dictators like Gaddafi, like Mubarak, like Mr Assad (who is still there) who, not so long ago, were our allies in shipping people to those same countries – to the country of Mr Assad – because he and his friends are so very good at torturing and getting us the information that we want. It is an absolute disgrace that the governments of Europe still refuse to answer, to tell people about their responsibility, and to offer their apologies.

Colleagues, this is not about one country or another: we have here a collective responsibility. This is not about Romania or Lithuania or any other European country; it is about a community of values, and we have a duty – we as the European Parliament – we will not forget. We will keep raising this issue until people have been held to account over human rights violations that were committed in our name.

 
  
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  Frieda Brepoels, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (NL) Mr President, previously, I was a member of the temporary committee investigating allegations surrounding the CIA’s involvement in the kidnapping and illegal detention of prisoners within the EU in this Parliament. Looking back, we can only be thrilled with this new report and so, on behalf of our group, I would like to warmly congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Flautre, as this follow-up report finally sees the light of day.

At the time of the Fava report, members were still struggling to discover hard facts due to the lack of information on the covert CIA detention programme. Based on a number of specific indicators, for me, the strength of the report was found mainly in the formulation of a number of recommendations, such as the drafting of a comprehensive definition of terrorism and imposing adequate democratic control of intelligence services. The purpose of those recommendations was to ensure that illegal practices such as forced disappearances and arbitrary detentions do not happen again.

However, what do we find five years on? Those recommendations have remained dead in the water and no single European country has provided an explanation why. The European Union and its Member States are continuing to feign deafness in response to the many calls for openness about their involvement in the CIA programme, despite all the evidence gathered by Parliament itself, as well as by the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the media and organisations such as Amnesty International.

Following this report, I certainly hope that Parliament will continue to exert pressure until we finally get some clarification and all the recommendations have been implemented. This is absolutely necessary because arbitrary detention continues to be a practice of the United States in particular. In addition, Guantánamo has still not been closed down, despite all the promises. Of course, combating terrorism is necessary, but the balance between the protection of society and violations of personal freedoms should be appropriate. Respect for human rights is an absolute precondition for ensuring the effectiveness of any anti-terrorism policy, and hence also the European anti-terrorism policy, especially in order to maintain the confidence of citizens in the democratic order of the EU.

By cooperating with the CIA programme without criticism, the EU has grossly violated this confidence. The use of unconditional diplomatic assurances, the systematic invocation of state secrecy and the way in which intelligence services took on the role of judge are contrary to the values on which Europe is built, namely, the rule of law, human rights and respect for human dignity. My group has therefore worked hard for a strong text which condemns these practices. It is only in this way that Europe can maintain moral control in the world.

 
  
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  Timothy Kirkhope, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, Commissioner, I, too, believe that the seriousness of this issue cannot be ignored. The allegations of some Member States’ involvement must be treated with nothing but the fullest seriousness and thoroughness that it warrants. As a lawyer, a democrat and a former interior minister, I believe that any such investigations must be through an established process, and that process is for fully independent, judicial inquiries to be held and investigated at Member State level.

These inquiries are already under way in those countries that have been named in connection with these matters. Public confidence is being eroded in the very services that are here to protect us, and until we have an opportunity to draw a line under the accusations and provide real proof one way or the other, reports such as this are actually feeding terrorists and extremist propaganda. My own country, the United Kingdom, is one of the countries at whom these allegations are being levelled, a country that has long-established principles of freedom, fairness and the rule of law.

I welcome the opportunity of an investigation in order to reinstate the reputation of our security services, currently tarnished with allegations of our alleged involvement. Other Member States are also put in the dock, accused but not convicted. Is that fair? Of course, it is important to move forward in a way that encourages cooperation and a good working method in finding a resolution. Unfortunately, I do not think that the content of this report, its language or its approach helps us achieve either of these things.

Mr President, I come from a country where you are innocent until proven guilty but, unfortunately, this does not seem to be enough for this Parliament.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (FR) Mr President, we cannot but feel proud that Parliament is examining this report today.

As the press and the NGOs have stressed a great many times, the secret operations carried out by the CIA in the aftermath of the 11 September attack involved approximately 60 countries around the world, including at least 10 EU Member States. Abduction, detention without trial, disappearance and torture kept pace with the transportation of alleged suspects, in particular, to Guantánamo, yet to be closed. Human rights violations reached an all-time high.

The Member States concerned did, and some are still doing, their utmost to prevent the sad truth from getting out. I would, therefore, like to extend my warmest and most sincere thanks to our rapporteurs, in particular, to Ms Flautre, for pressing on with this marvellous work on our behalf despite the pressure exerted by a number of Member States and their representatives here in this House. I shall not mention any names, but they know who they are.

I will just say that it is never acceptable to change one’s perspective depending on whether or not one feels close to a government. Human rights violations are always intolerable, particularly when they are committed by EU Member States that want to give lessons in this area to the whole world. No state, whether it is the United States of America, or whether it is an EU Member State, can shirk its responsibilities, including when it is combating terrorism. Yes, the credibility of the European Union is at stake. Yes, we are collectively responsible towards EU citizens. Move forward, then! Let us move forward. Indeed, the Union must start by cleaning up its own backyard. The sooner the better.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Mr President, respecting human rights is something that the European Union regularly demands in far-away lands all over the world on pain of sanctions. Human rights, as is generally known, are those rights, the respect of which all potential candidate states for EU accession must commit to, through the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) for instance, as we all know.

Given these facts, it is scandalous that all the necessary steps resulting from the illegal transport of prisoners and the CIA’s secret prisons on European soil, in some cases not only with the knowledge, but even with the aiding and abetting of national governments, have still not been put in place. As if this violation of the ECHR were not shameful enough on its own, the investigations continue to drag on, with no end in sight. It is high time that action was finally taken and closure given to these disreputable events.

If we are to talk about human rights now, however, it needs to be clear that, specifically in respect of the ongoing accession negotiations with Turkey, the EU can no longer turn a blind eye to the fact that human rights in that country largely exist only on paper. The incompatibility with the Copenhagen criteria alone should, in my opinion, be enough to stop the accession talks and instead launch talks on a privileged partnership. If the European Union is serious about human rights, it needs to finally repeal historical unlawful legislation such as the regulations of the Anti-Fascist Council of the People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) in Slovenia and the Beneš decrees in the Czech Republic.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE).(PT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Vice-President Reding, your predecessor, Mr Frattini, declared in this House in February 2007 that, and I quote, ‘security cannot be at any price’. I could not agree more, just as I can only agree with what you said in your speech today, when you spoke about the values of the rule of law, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial before an independent tribunal. All of this has been denied to those detained in Guantánamo, the closure of which has been promised, but has not been implemented.

We would draw attention to the importance of international law and the need for the uncompromising defence of human rights. In the report we adopted on 14 February 2007, following the committee which I chaired, we evaluated the facts, identified misconduct, pointed out omissions and proposed more than 40 recommendations aimed at preventing the same things from happening again, or at least preventing them from happening with such ease.

The question that must be asked today is: what will happen if the same things happen again now? What measures have we actually taken to ensure that history will not repeat itself? As I see it, in essence, nothing has been done. There is certainly greater public opinion on this matter, so that parliaments would not refrain from becoming more involved than they did in the past, while the judicial authorities in certain Member States would be more vigilant and would react more rapidly. However, most of the European institutions and the governments of the Member States have done nothing to comply with our recommendations.

I welcome the work of Ms Flautre and the excellent report that she has put before us. I agree with most of its recommendations and would like to emphasise that state secrets may be an exceptional form of defence used by democracies, but they cannot constitute a pretext for hiding the arbitration and violation of human rights. However, I would repeat the question: are we better placed today to assure our fellow citizens that the same thing cannot happen again, or at least that it cannot be repeated with impunity? I believe that we have to carry out rigorous work in close collaboration with the national parliaments in order to identify what is being done with regard to each of the recommendations that we adopted. I am even willing to accept that some of the recommendations may be difficult or controversial to apply, but I wish to understand why they have been overwhelmingly ignored by the governments of the Member States and the EU institutions up until now.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D). (FR) Mr President, I, like my colleagues, would like to thank Ms Flautre and Ms Ludford for the excellent work done in this report and for the efforts made to hold the authorities to account in a case with very nebulous contours.

In several countries, we find ourselves in a situation concerning human rights violations which have taken place on European soil and which have raised more questions than provided answers.

The fight against terrorism certainly cannot justify everything, otherwise it would lose any legitimacy. In this regard, I would particularly like to emphasise the trend towards abuse of state secrecy and national security, which is an obstacle to parliamentary and judicial scrutiny. Transparency on the part of the Member States and the EU institutions is, however, an essential condition for ensuring that public action fully retains its legitimacy and credibility in the fight against terrorism and cross-border crime, in complete respect of fundamental rights and human dignity.

The fact remains that, while some countries have been named in particular, the European Union has a collective responsibility, and we are expecting the Council to take a clear position on proven facts instead of being satisfied with simple allegations of cases of human rights violations, which can no longer be ignored.

The Commission, for its part, must also assess the facts, taking account of the Treaties, and do everything it can to help shed light on this matter. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the many citizens who have mobilised around this report, the vote on which they are impatiently waiting for, to finally get things moving.

Therefore, I hope that it will get the overwhelming support of the House tomorrow.

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR).(PL) Mr President, half of the EU’s Member States have sanctioned the use of their air space for secret CIA operations within the European Union. Does that mean that half of Europe’s countries – Finland, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Poland – did that out of disrespect for the humanitarian achievements of international law or international standards of human rights? That would be an absurd conclusion. I think these countries were making very difficult decisions in very difficult times, when attacks were being made in New York, London and Madrid.

Undoubtedly, mistakes were made, but it is highly hypocritical to accuse all those countries today – as I said, half of the EU’s Member States – without presenting an alternative method for dealing with the leaders of international terrorist movements in compliance with the law. The suggestion made in the report about giving those leaders all the legal privileges enjoyed by suspects in our own criminal procedure is hard to take seriously. Interestingly enough, President Obama used that argument three or four years ago to convince Americans to vote for him in national elections. However, the Guantánamo detention camp is still in operation today, and President Obama returned to using military tribunals just a few months ago to try people suspected of terrorism. Unfortunately, the European Parliament does not understand this and, for this reason, the report does not warrant endorsement.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE), Blue-card question. – Mr Szymański, it may be the translation, but did I really hear you say that people who are suspected of – maybe – committing terrorist acts cannot have the same rights as other citizens?

Does that mean that you reject the principle that human rights are universal and indivisible? If so, does that also mean that you do not subscribe to all the values that we have enshrined in our Treaties?

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR), Blue-card answer. (PL) I do share the view that human rights are universal, but I also see that the situation of an ordinary criminal is different from that of someone who blows himself up alongside the USS Cole aircraft carrier. This situation more closely resembles one of a war than of a common crime, which is why all EU Member States have both a criminal procedure and a military procedure in place. I am not saying that those people should be treated as if they were prisoners of war. What I am saying is that the acts committed by those people do not resemble ordinary crimes. They are positioned somewhere between ordinary crime and warfare, which is why I assert that international law does not fully address the phenomenon of international terrorism and we are therefore dealing with a gap in legislation.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford (ALDE), Blue-card question. – Mr Szymański, you have just reinforced my worry about your original remark. I insist to you that terrorist acts are crimes and should be treated like other crimes, with an attempt to put people on trial in fair trials. We have done that with international crimes through ICTY and the International Criminal Court. Clearly, there are certain challenges but, unfortunately, the attempt to do so – would you not agree – was blown away in the immediate reaction after 9/11. We should have cooperated to reinforce international law and practice on putting terrorists on trial. Do you agree?

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR), Blue-card answer.(PL) I agree that the justice system is the only mechanism that should issue judgments with regard to people, whether common criminals, war criminals or soldiers on the battlefield. However, what I suggest is that we note that the ordinary criminal procedure is highly flawed when used to fight a phenomenon such as an ‘international terrorist network’, which resembles a dispersed, asymmetrical army. I think that the Geneva Conventions, written 60 years ago, also fail to address this challenge fully, and it is a humanitarian challenge which is definitely not fully addressed by criminal procedures in our Member States.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL).(PT) Mr President, the increasingly clear evidence regarding the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in EU countries by the CIA perfectly demonstrates what is actually meant by policies to prevent terrorism, which are so prevalent in the NATO lexicon, and which have led to the adoption of resolutions for expanding the so-called fight against terrorism through the support of its Member States for countries that are allegedly under terrorist threat. This concept by NATO, a strategic partner organisation of the EU, has legitimised numerous violations of human rights, the evidence for which is recognised and documented in the report by Ms Flautre. These NATO partnerships are aimed wholly at destroying the framework of dialogue and peaceful coexistence that has been consolidated through the creation of the Charter of the United Nations since 1945.

We consider the overall content of this report to be positive as it can contribute to clarifying the imperialist policies of the US and its illegal methods, whether through the CIA or through NATO. However, we believe that it is for the national institutions of the Member States to make investigations, evaluate the evidence and judge the activities that have compromised political structures through acts that may be illegal. As for us in Portugal, we have done everything we can to open a political inquiry to ascertain governmental accountability for the passage of secret CIA flights through our country. Unfortunately, that process has been blocked by the national parties that belong to the majority in this Parliament.

The Parliament, the Council and the Commission can play an important role in the exchange of information, thus helping to clarify the facts, while always acting with respect for the sovereignty of the Member States and their legal systems.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I would like to begin by thanking the rapporteurs, Ms Flautre and Baroness Ludford, for their effective cooperation during these negotiations.

As shadow rapporteur for the PPE Group for the Committee on Foreign Affairs, I have also made a small contribution to the drafting of this report. I have followed closely the achievement of an objective and balanced final document, which highlights new elements that have emerged in the last five years, where applicable. At the same time, I advocated throughout the process that the report must not turn into an indictment against Member States and that the European Parliament must not substitute national or international inquiry mechanisms and, above all, must not render a verdict or establish guilt. With this in mind, I have submitted amendments within both the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and I believe that they contributed to a more balanced reflection of the situation in Member States, including in Romania.

I welcome the fact that the final report makes reference to the parliamentary inquiry carried out in my country in 2008 and the conclusions that came out of it, since this inquiry was omitted from the initial draft, thereby generating a representation divorced from reality. At the same time, clarifications were required relating to the new elements that have emerged in recent years. For example, it was important to specify that certain information that appeared in the press was not confirmed by the inquiry or by the authorities. This is why I have supported the assertion that any requests for new inquiries must have a solid foundation.

I believe that light must be shed on the possible involvement of EU States in the transfer or illegal detention of prisoners by the CIA, and the presumption of innocence must be respected. The purpose of the process remains the discovery of the truth and not the establishment of guilt at all costs.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D). (RO) Mr President, I support the need for this report intended to help bring clarification to the situation regarding alleged CIA prisons and flights in the European Union. Nevertheless, there are references in this document which may cause confusion. The report should be objective and its aim must be the investigation of potential violations of human rights. Unfortunately, the formulation of direct charges against certain Member States, without the existence of any concrete evidence, makes me unable to support it entirely.

I cannot fail to note that in this document, it is inferred that the European Parliament already knows what happened in the case of these alleged secret actions of the CIA and has already reached the verdict, thus substituting the judicial authorities. Our role as representatives of Europe’s citizens is not to replace the law enforcement authorities, but to monitor that these authorities are meeting their obligations in the correct manner, thereby ensuring that those who have done wrong will pay for it, and such actions will not be repeated in the future.

 
  
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  Sajjad Karim (ECR). – Mr President, I recall standing in this very Chamber some seven years ago – when my country had the Presidency and Douglas Alexander was here – and putting a question to him specifically about these allegations which were coming to light. I experienced his wrath and the wrath of our interior minister at the time. I was practically laughed out of this Chamber.

Today, Mr President, we ought to be proud of this flag, but I am afraid that in this instance, we cannot be. There are only two institutions that are represented here today: the Council’s seats are still empty, showing that there is a complete lack of recognition or commitment from our national governments. Had it been a third country that had these allegations levelled against it, I wonder what our response would have been.

Of course, in the United Kingdom, we have now taken a very different step of having our own internal investigations, rejecting what may have been done before, but that is not enough. When terrorists carry out actions, we are not weak by sticking to our principles. They cannot destroy us through their actions, but they can take away so much more from us through our reactions.

What I say to Mr Szymański when he makes the sort of national-sentiment comments that he makes and then leaves the Chamber is simply this: there is one non-EU country of which we can be proud and from which we can learn so much more, and that is Norway. When it faced the most terrible of criminal offences, including bombings and death, it did not react by taking away the rights of its citizens; it delivered every right and it delivered justice. Today, we should salute Norway for doing that.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D).(SK) Mr President, the CIA programme includes repeated violations of human rights, including illegal and arbitrary detention, torture and forced disappearances. In order to examine this question, a special committee was set up, which documented the use of our airspace and territory by the CIA.

Since these findings, Parliament has repeatedly requested a full investigation of the cooperation of national governments and agencies with the CIA programme.

The EU is based on respect for democracy, the principles of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity and compliance with international laws, not only within the framework of internal politics, but also externally. Our essential responsibility is to maintain the trust of citizens in the democratic institutions of the EU, the effective protection and support of human rights and the securing of legitimate and effective security policies.

The human rights violations resulting from the CIA programme continue. Member States, however, have failed in their obligation to investigate the serious cases related to the CIA programme properly. This means the obligation to investigate cases of human rights violations.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, the EU and its Member States often like to talk about democratic values and respect for human rights. The involvement of a broad range of European states in a practice that flagrantly breaches the most basic democratic rights reveals this to be hollow rhetoric. These states are accomplices to state kidnapping, extrajudicial incarceration and torture. All of this is documented and known to the governments involved.

Guantánamo Bay and all of the secret centres in Europe should be shut down immediately. All of the prisoners should face a fair trial or else be released. Last year, 20 000 US troops travelled through Shannon airport in Ireland and there is not much doubt that, at the very least, the airport facilitated rendition flights. I call for the use of Shannon airport by the US military to be ended immediately. I also call for the immediate inspection of all military aircraft going through Shannon airport and I remind Eamonn Gilmore and the Labour Party of their support for this call when they were in opposition.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Mr President, the illegal interrogation and imprisonment of foreign citizens in EU countries within the framework of a US intelligence service programme is a disturbing element in Europe-US relations.

The findings of independent journalists and investigators from Poland and Lithuania have confirmed the secret stopovers of US aircraft at military airfields in north-eastern Poland, and the subsequent escorting of the persons under transport from these aircraft to secret intelligence service facilities in Lithuania.

It is surely clear to all of us that such activities of the CIA in Poland, Lithuania or Romania could not have taken place without the knowledge and consent of official structures in these countries. I therefore firmly believe that if the top state officials collaborating in these illegal activities continue to be protected in their roles by the political leaders of these countries, it will be difficult to make any progress in investigating the illegal activities of the CIA in Europe.

However, there is only one conclusion for our citizens from this: the security services of many EU states are no different from those of Franco or Pinochet in their working methods.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). – Mr President, illegal detention is not only wrong in itself, but its illegality, together with a lack of official records, facilitates the ill-treatment of the detained.

I hope that it should not be necessary to say that torture can never be justified morally. However, if people are not persuaded by moral arguments, we should point out that torture is ineffective because it produces unreliable information. Furthermore, the propaganda value to terrorists of proven cases of ill-treatment is immense.

Political leaders in many European countries have to account for their actions, and some seem to have a case to answer. However they, like the detained suspects of terrorism, have the right to the presumption of innocence in any judicial process.

I am convinced that full judicial inquiries should be conducted in the relevant European countries. However, I would oppose the legislation that the resolution calls for to give the European Parliament a general power to place Member States’ security services under scrutiny. That is the role of the parliaments and judiciaries of Member States.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, from the outset, the position the Commission has taken on this issue has been: first, that the fight against terrorism must be conducted in full respect of human rights; second, that the truth, whatever it is, must be established; and, third, that steps must be taken to prevent any future repetition of the facts in question.

The rapporteur knows, because she got all these letters, that the first letters of the Commission were issued in 2006 by my colleague, Franco Frattini, then by my colleague, Jacques Barrot, then by Ms Malmström and myself. We will continue to insist, along with the Member States, that the whole truth will be revealed. I will also meet Stavros Lambrinidis, the Human Rights Special Representative, in order to see how we can join forces.

Concerning the United States, the EU holds a regular dialogue with the US on human rights and counter-terrorism issues, and we have a dialogue with the US State Department legal adviser on all aspects of international law. In line with the Council guidelines on torture, the EU regularly raises issues concerning disappearances, secret detention and torture in its human rights dialogue with all relevant third countries.

I would like to tell this House that on the issue of the ratification of the UN Convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance, the EU Member States have submitted a joint pledge to the 31st ICRC conference to ratify this convention by 2015 and, of course, we will follow this very closely.

There has been one question raised in this House: will the same occur again? I would like to answer very clearly: ‘no’ – because we speak up, because this House does not stop bringing pressure to bear, and because Europe is about equilibrium between the safety of our society, on the one hand, and the rights of the individual on the other. Because Europe is all about the rule of law, let us do everything to shed light on all that has happened in the past, so that the past does not repeat itself.

 
  
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  Hélène Flautre, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, I would like to thank all those who have spoken in this debate to support this work, which has been long and arduous and which, as I said in my introduction, will bring us together again in a year’s time.

I think that a lot can be done in the Member States in a year. We are not, of course, prosecutors and we do not have to ‘provide definite proof’. We simply know – if I take the example of Romania – that an investigation has been carried out in the Senate. You have pointed it out; it has been mentioned. I am also aware that there have been numerous allegations. I know that Eurocontrol has found evidence of new flights connecting Romania to Lithuania. A case file, which is mentioned in the complaint against Romania lodged with the European Court of Human Rights, was drawn up by the Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Hammarberg, and submitted to the authorities. None of these elements forms part of the public findings of the investigation.

I think that it is not about singling out individual countries for general opprobrium because colleagues have placed great emphasis – and it is, I hope, a strong aspect of this report – on our collective responsibility. What is, in fact, happening? The reality is that each country holds a fragment of the truth. As a result, each country must carry out its investigations to the best of its ability so as to be able to expose this system because it is, in fact, a system.

We have no intention of stigmatising this or that country. It is clear and evident – no one can deny it – that, in Romania, a new investigation, a judicial investigation, must be conducted, because the elements –which do not constitute proof; we are not prosecutors – are nevertheless important enough to warrant the reopening of an investigation. The report calls for nothing more, nothing less. The report asks Romania to conduct an investigation, and calls on the Commission, in fact, to show that each country holds a fragment of the truth and that the Commission, in particular, has the means, the power, the duty and the obligation to ensure that this fragment of truth enlightens other countries so that all EU citizens can be informed.

You can do a lot. The rule is noted: you are strict, and I congratulate you on your resoluteness and on your regular interventions on fundamental rights violations within the framework of the implementation of EU law. However, in flagrant cases of unexplained massive violations, the means must be found to be accountable for the violations committed. For example, as regards the issue of interest to us here, you can bring in prosecutors, you can pool, or help to pool, information. You can translate all useful documents. You can gather together information and make it available to the Member States to help them conduct these investigations. The letters you are going to send once again to each Member State – which I welcome – must contain all the new elements that have come to light, including the analyses carried out by Reprieve of the data provided by Eurocontrol.

That is what we are expecting, that is to say, a lot of work in the next year for a meeting which, I very much hope, will be a resounding success.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 11 September 2012.

 
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