Friday, April 28, 2006

"A widespread regular practice"

The European Parliament has released a preliminary report into its investigation into allegations that the US was running a new gulag of secret prisons in Eastern Europe and conducting rendition flights through European territory. Their conclusion? That human rights abuses were a widespread regular practice in the war on terror - and that the majority of European governments were almost certainly complicit in them.

The report found that over a thousand undeclared CIA flights had passed through Europe, and that at least some of these flights could be tied to cases of rendition - for example, the cases of Khalid al-Masri (kidnapped and rendered from Macedonia for having a "suspicious name") and Osama Mustafa Hassan (an actual terrorism suspect whose kidnap and rendition from Italy caused the collapse of a major anti-terrorism investigation - and the issuing of arrest warrants for the CIA bodysnatchers involved). It also found that it was unlikely that European governments were ignorant of what was going on - which would place them in violation of their commitments under the ECHR. Europe takes torture rather more seriously than the US (perhaps because they remember the Gestapo), and assisting in any way with transporting someone to be tortured - even by providing a fuelling stop - would place an EU country in violation of its human rights obligations. As for what action will be taken, it will be interesting to see what the European Parliament decides to do...

the next stage of the investigation will focus on secret prisons, and MEPs are scheduled to visit Romania and Poland later this year to get some answers.