By Adriana Vaida
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg (photo) called, yesterday, on Lithuania, Poland and Romania to clarify their role in the CIA secret detention and torture programme. He said Europeans must account for their complicity in CIA secret detention and torture.
In a release issued on Monday, Thomas Hammarberg comments that from late 2001 onwards, the US Central Intelligence Agency developed a vast network of clandestine counter-terrorism operations to capture and detain its most wanted suspects. “The CIA’s partner agencies in various foreign countries – including across Europe – lent their close collaboration. The value of the intelligence produced by this network has been questioned; but one clear result was a pattern of abusive and excessive actions in flagrant violation of human rights,” says Thomas Hammarberg. He underlines that highly secure detention facilities, so-called “Black Sites”, were established in at least seven different overseas locations, to which the CIA delivered its detainees for “enhanced interrogation”. Detention in CIA custody meant being kept indefinitely in secret, incommunicado, solitary confinement.
Hammarberg further says that at the height of the “war on terror”, Poland, Romania and Lithuania extended quite extraordinary permissions and protections to their American partners – while respecting conditions of total secrecy. “Today, years later, darkness still enshrouds those who authorised and ran the Black Sites on European territories. The full truth must now be established and guarantees given that such forms of co-operation will never be repeated.”
The release reads that “Romania has also been found complicit in CIA secret detentions. A CIA Black Site was opened near Bucharest on 23 September 2003, immediately after the closure of the Polish facility. It is known that at least one of the “high-value detainees” (HVDs) from Poland was delivered directly to Baneasa Airport in the middle of the night. CIA operations continued in Romania for over two years. Unfortunately, the Romanian authorities have demonstrated little genuine will to uncover the whole truth of what happened on Romanian territory. The only official response has been denial, supported by a Senate Committee report refuting all allegations. A prosecutorial investigation, or a public inquiry with the power to compel classified evidence, must no longer be avoided.” Hammarberg stressed.
He concluded the release underlining that “effective investigations are imperative and long overdue. The purported cost to transatlantic relations of pursuing such accountability cannot be compared to the damage inflicted on our European system of human rights protection by allowing ourselves to be kept in the dark.”