Friday, July 25, 2014

Justice for rendition

After the US launched its war on terror, Poland played host to a CIA "black site". Prisoners were kidnapped by the US, rendered to Poland, and tortured there. Now, the ECHR has found the Polish government guilty of unlawful detention and torture for their collaboration in these crimes:

Poland became the first EU country held to account for its involvement in the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme on Thursday when the European court of human rights found it guilty of the unlawful detention and torture of two men at a secret prison in the north of the country after 9/11.

In two damning judgments, the court also ruled that the Polish government had failed to conduct a proper investigation into the episode, and ordered it to pay €100,000 (£79,000) compensation to each of the men, who are currently held at Guantánamo Bay. The rulings are the first in a series of cases being brought against European states, with Lithuania and Romania also facing accusations that they allowed the CIA to open secret prisons on their territory.


The two unanimous rulings found that the rendition programme was completely illegal, as its rationale had been "specifically to remove those persons from any legal protection against torture and enforced disappearance and to strip them of any safeguards afforded by both the US constitution and international law".

The court at Strasbourg said it was inconceivable that the rendition aircraft could have landed in Poland, and that the CIA could have operated the prison on Polish territory, without the Polish authorities being aware. "It is also inconceivable that activities of that character and scale, possibly vital for the country's military and political interests, could have been undertaken on Polish territory without Poland's knowledge and without the necessary authorisation being given at the appropriate level of the state authorities."

A finding of government guilt and collaboration is great, but its not enough. The officials responsible for that collaboration must now face trial for conspiracy to torture - as must the torturers themselves.