Friday, June 01, 2018

Some justice for torture

Between 2003 and 2006, Romania and Lithuania hosted CIA "black sites", secret extrajudicial prisons where alleged terrorists were rendered and tortured by America. Today, the European Court of Human Rights declared unequivocally that those prisons were illegal, and ordered their host governments to pay damages to two of their victims:

European judges have ruled that Lithuania and Romania violated the rights of two terror suspects by allowing the CIA to torture them in secret prisons within their borders.

The terror suspects — both said to be affiliated with al-Qaeda — were captured following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and they are now being held by the US at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba.

At the time of the torture of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the CIA was operating secret prisons in several locations, including within Lithuania and Romania.

Lithuania and Romania have both been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to pay €100,000 (£88,000; $117,000) in damages to the two men. The court was unable to gain access to speak with the two men at Guantanamo.

Which is good, so far as it goes. But firstly, an EU government should not need the ECHR to know that hosting a secret CIA torture centre is illegal. And secondly, the officials and politicians who approved that hosting have not been prosecuted or held to account in any way. Which means there is no incentive for them or their successors not to do it again in future. And of course the US torturers and the officials who enabled them are all still walking free as well.

If we want to end torture, we need to prosecute these people. Until we've done that, there's no real justice.