EU endorses damning report

on CIA secret flights, torture

 

The International Herald Tribune

 

The European parliament has approved a damning report on secret CIA flights, condemning member states which colluded in the operations.

 

The UK, Germany and Italy were among 13 states that allowed the US to forcibly remove terror suspects, lawmakers said.

 

The EU parliament voted to accept a resolution condemning member states that accepted or ignored the practice.

 

The EU report said the CIA had operated 1,245 flights, some taking suspects to states where they could face torture.

 

 The report was adopted by a large majority, with 382 MEPs voting in favour, 256 against and 74 abstaining.

 

Vigilance

 

The final version denounces the lack of co-operation of many EU member states and it condemns the actions of secret services and governments who accepted and concealed renditions.

 

It is unlikely, the report says, that European governments were unaware of rendition activities on their territory, something the British government, among others, has denied.

 

"This is a report that doesn't allow anyone to look the other way. We must be vigilant that what has been happening in the past five years may never happen again," said Italian Socialist Giovanni Fava, who drafted the document.

 

The parliament also called for an "independent inquiry" to be considered and for closure of the US' Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

 

Human rights campaigning group Amnesty International welcomed the EU lawmakers' vote, but urged member states to carry out independent investigations.

 

Revealing facts

 

Although the report has no force in EU law, Mr Fava said during the parliamentary debate that the related investigation, over a year, had uncovered much new evidence.

 

EU states involved

 

Austria

Cyprus

Denmark

Germany

Greece

Ireland

Italy

Spain

Sweden

Poland

Portugal

Romania

United Kingdom.

 

Key excerpts of report

 

Many of those taken from EU states were subjected to torture to extract information from them, the report said.

 

It said there was a "strong possibility" that this intelligence had been passed on to EU governments who were aware of how it was obtained.

 

It also uncovered the use of secret detention facilities used as the flights made their journey across Europe towards countries such as Afghanistan.

 

It was not possible to contradict evidence or suggestions that secret detention centres were operated in Poland and Romania, the report said.

 

'Incommunicado detention'

 

Centre-right MEPs - the largest group in parliament - have been highly critical of the report, saying it is primarily motivated by anti-Americanism.

 

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said the commission would act on the truth, even if it were uncomfortable or unpalatable. But he called for a relaunching of the Euro-Atlantic relationship and said Europe must continue to work with its US partners.

 

During the course of their investigation, delegations of MEPs travelled to countries including Romania, Poland, the UK, the US and Germany to investigate claims of European involvement in so-called extraordinary renditions.

 

The governments of Austria, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK were criticised for their "unwillingness to co-operate" with investigators.

 

The report defines extraordinary renditions as instances where "an individual suspected of involvement in terrorism is illegally abducted, arrested and/or transferred into the custody of US officials and/or transported to another country for interrogation which, in the majority of cases involves incommunicado detention and torture".

______