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Extraordinary Rendition: International investigations

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This subject has been split into multiple articles due to the large amount of material

Extraordinary rendition and irregular rendition describe the abduction and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one nation to another.[1] "Torture by proxy" is such a transfer to countries known to practice torture, with the intention of torturing the person by proxy at the destination location.[2][3][4] Torture by proxy is denied by the US, but documented evidence of it exists,[5] and a Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe report concluded that it was "credible": "The elements we have gathered so far tend to reinforce the credibility of the allegations concerning the transport and temporary detention of detainees — outside all judicial procedure - in European countries."[6] The chairman of the PACE stated "he was personally convinced the US had undertaken illegal activities in Europe in transporting and detaining prisoners."[7]

Multiple sources of evidence exist to support the allegation that the CIA runs a secret global abduction and internment operation of suspected terrorists, known as “extraordinary rendition”, which since 2001 has captured about 3,000 people and transported them around the world.

At least three sources of evidence exist[6][7]<[5] to support the allegation that torture has been employed with the knowledge or acquiescence of the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom (torture by proxy).


Investigations by multi-nation groups

Council of Europe investigation and its two reports

On November 25, 2005, the lead investigator for the Council of Europe, Swiss lawmaker Dick Marty announced that he had obtained latitude and longitude coordinates for suspected black sites, and he was planning to use satellite imagery over the last several years as part of his investigation. On November 28, 2005, EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini asserted that any EU country which had operated a secret prison would have its voting rights suspended.[8] In a preliminary report, Dick Marty declared that it was "highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware" of the CIA kidnapping of a "hundred" persons on European territory and their subsequent rendition to countries where they may be tortured.[9]

The report from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe directed by Dick Marty, and made public on June 7, 2006, was titled: "Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states."[10]

Following the publication of this report, the Council of Europe published its draft Recommendation and Resolution document which found grounds for concern with the conduct of both the US and member states of the EU and expresses concern for the disregard of international law and the Geneva Convention. Following a 23 point resolution the document makes five recommendations.

  • 1 refers to its Resolution on alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states.
  • 2 recalling its previous recommendation on the legality of the detention of persons by the United States in Guantanamo Bay
  • 3 urges the Committee of Ministers to draft a recommendation to Council of Europe member States containing:
common measures to guarantee more effectively the human rights of persons suspected of terrorist offences who are captured from, detained in or transported through Council of Europe member States; and a set of minimum requirements for "human rights protection clauses", for inclusion in bilateral and multilateral agreements with third parties, especially those concerning the use of military installations on the territory of Council of Europe member States.
  • 4 urgently requests that: an initiative be launched on an international level, expressly involving the United States, an Observer to the Council of Europe, to develop a common, truly global strategy to address the terrorist threat. The strategy should conform in all its elements with the fundamental principles of our common heritage in terms of democracy, human rights and respect for the rule of law. Also, a proposal be considered, in instances where States are unable or unwilling to prosecute persons accused of terrorist acts, to bring these persons within the jurisdiction of an international court that is competent to try them. One possibility worth considering would be to vest such a competence in the International Criminal Court, whilst renewing invitations to join the Court to the United States and other countries that have not yet done so.
  • 5 recommends improving the Council of Europe’s ability to react rapidly and effectively to allegations of systematic human rights abuse involving several member States.

Several months before the publication of the Council of Europe report directed by Dick Marty, Gijs de Vries, the EU's antiterrorism coordinator, asserted in April 2006 that no evidence existed that extraordinary rendition had been taking place in Europe. It was also said that the European Union's probe, and a similar one by the continent's leading human rights group had not found any human rights violations nor other crimes that could be proven to the satisfaction of the courts.[11] This denial from a member of the executive power of the EU institutions has been questioned by the European Parliament report, which was accepted by a vast majority of the Parliament in February 2007 (See below:The European Parliament's February 14, 2007 report).

On the other hand, Dick Marty explained the difference of approach concerning terrorism between the EU and the US as following:

While the states of the Old World have dealt with these threats primarily by means of existing institutions and legal systems, the United States appears to have made a fundamentally different choice: considering that neither conventional judicial instruments nor those established under the framework of the laws of war could effectively counter the new forms of international terrorism, it decided to develop new legal concepts. This legal approach is utterly alien to the European tradition and sensibility, and is clearly contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[12]

However, despite Marty's claims, the European Parliament investigations uncovered cooperation between European secret services and governments and the extraordinary renditions programs, making such a clear-cut distinction over-simplistic (see below). Dick Marty himself has not accepted such a dualistic approach, as he showed that for the British government also, the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism was alleged to be so grave that the balance of liberties had to be reconsidered.[12] Marty's report stated that:

"The compilation of so-called "black lists" of individuals and companies suspected of maintaining connections with organisations considered terrorist and the application of the associated sanctions clearly breach every principle of the fundamental right to a fair trial: no specific charges, no right to be heard, no right of appeal, no established procedure for removing one's name from the list."[12]

The second report was released on 8 June 2007[13]

June 27, 2006 Council of Europe resolution

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) accused the United States of operating a "clandestine spiderweb of disappearances, secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers" and called for EU regulations governing foreign intelligence services operating in Europe, and demanded “human rights clauses” in military base agreements with the USA.

In a resolution and recommendation approved by a large majority, the Assembly also called for:

  • The dismantling by the US of its system of detentions and transfers.
  • A review of bilateral agreements between Council of Europe member states and the US, particularly on the status of US forces stationed in Europe and on the use of military and other instrastructures, to ensure they conform to international human rights norms.
  • Official apologies and compensation for victims of illegal detentions against whom no formal accusations, nor any court proceedings, have ever been brought
  • An international initiative, expressly involving the United States, to develop a common, truly global strategy to address the terrorist threat which conforms to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.[14]

European Parliament's investigation and report

The European Parliament launched its own investigation into the reports. In April 2006, Members of the European Parliament leading the investigations expressed concerns that the CIA had conducted more than 1,000 secret flights over European territory since 2001, some to transfer terror suspects to countries that used torture. Investigators said that the same US agents and planes were involved over and over again.[15] The Parliament adopted a resolution in July 2006 endorsing the Council of Europe's conclusions, mid way through its own investigation into the alleged program.[16]

In a resolution passed on February 14, 2007 MEPs approved by a large majority (382 voting in favour, 256 against and 74 abstaining) their committee's final report, which criticized the rendition program and concluded that many European countries tolerated illegal CIA activities including secret flights over their territories. The countries named were: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.[17] The report...

Denounces the lack of co-operation of many member states and of the Council of the European Union with the investigation;
Regrets that European countries have been relinquishing control over their airspace and airports by turning a blind eye or admitting flights operated by the CIA which, on some occasions, were being used for illegal transportation of detainees;
Calls for the closure of [the US military detention mission in] Guantanamo and for European countries immediately to seek the return of their citizens and residents who are being held illegally by the US authorities;
Considers that all European countries should initiate independent investigations into all stopovers by civilian aircraft [hired by] the CIA;
Urges that a ban or system of inspections be introduced for all CIA-operated aircraft known to have been involved in extraordinary rendition.[18]

According to the report, the CIA had operated 1,245 flights, many of them to destinations where suspects could face torture. The Parliament also called for the creation of an independent investigation commission and the closure of the Guantanamo camp. According to Italian Socialist Giovanni Fava, who drafted the document, there was a "strong possibility" that the intelligence obtained under the illegal extraordinary rendition program had been passed on to EU governments who were aware of how it was obtained. The report also uncovered the use of secret detention facilities used in Europe, including Romania and Poland. 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".

UN report by Manfred Nowak

Manfred Nowak, a special reporter on torture, has catalogued in a 15-page U.N. report presented to the 191-member General Assembly that the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Sweden and Kyrgyzstan are violating international human rights conventions by deporting terrorist suspects to countries such as Egypt, Syria, Algeria and Uzbekistan, where they may have been tortured.[19]

"The United States is holding at least 26 persons as “ghost detainees” at undisclosed locations outside of the United States," Human Rights Watch said on December 1, 2005, as it released a list naming some of the detainees. The detainees are being held indefinitely and incommunicado, without legal rights or access to counsel.[20][21]

See Also and References

See Extraordinary Rendition


  1. Michael John Garcia, Legislative Attorney American Law Division. Renditions: Constraints Imposed by Laws on Torture April 5, 2006 p.2 link from the United States Counter-Terrorism Training and Resources for Law Enforcement web site
  2. Daphen Eviatar (2009-01-26). "Torture Case Tests Obama Secrecy Policy: Will Obama Administration Break From Bush on Extraordinary Rendition?". Washington Independent. Archived from the original on 2009-11-05. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwashingtonindependent.com%2F27199%2Ftorture-case-poses-early-state-secret-test&date=2009-11-05. "Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. involves five victims of CIA rendition, or “torture by proxy,” as it’s also known."</li>
  3. Daphen Eviatar (2009-06-12). "Obama Administration Seeks Re-Hearing in Extraordinary Rendition Case". Washington Independent. Archived from the original on 2009-11-05. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwashingtonindependent.com%2F46882%2Fobama-administration-seeks-re-hearing-in-extraordinary-rendition-case&date=2009-11-05. "As I’ve written before, Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan involves five victims of CIA rendition, or “torture by proxy” who sued the subsidiary of Boeing that allegedly helped the CIA fly the men, captured abroad, to secret CIA prisons in cooperating countries."</li>
  4. "Torture by proxy: International law applicable to ‘Extraordinary Renditions’". All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition. 2005-12. Archived from the original on 2009-11-05. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.chrgj.org%2Fdocs%2FAPPG-NYU%2520Briefing%2520Paper.pdf&date=2009-11-05.</li>
  5. 5.0 5.1 Ken, Silverstein (December 8, 2005). "Pentagon Memo on Torture-Motivated Transfer cited.". Los Angeles Times. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/dec/08/nation/na-torture8.</li>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "CIA abduction claims 'credible'". BBC News Online. December 13, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4524864.stm. Retrieved 2005-12-18.</li>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Europe 'complicit over CIA jails'". BBC News Online. January 14, 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4611518.stm. Retrieved 2006-09-07.</li>
  8. "EU May Suspend Nations With Secret Prisons". ABC News. November 28, 2005. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1352347.</li>
  9. Directed by Swiss senator Dick Marty, Entitled "Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states," see: Template:PDFlink, Dick Marty, 22 January 2006</li>
  10. June 2006 Council of Europe report available here: HTML and PDF formats.</li>
  11. EU official: No evidence of illegal CIA action: Antiterror chief advises committee, Boston Globe, April 21, 2006</li>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Rendition and the rights of the individual, BBC News, June 7, 2006</li>
  13. Template:PDFlink, Council of Europe Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, 7 June 2007</li>
  14. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. Assembly.coe.int. URL accessed on 2010-07-17.</li>
  15. European Inquiry Says C.I.A. Flew 1,000 Flights in Secret, New York Times, April 27, 2006</li>
  16. Texts adopted by Parliament. Thursday, 6 July 2006 - Strasbourg. Final edition: Extraordinary rendition http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2006-0316+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN</li>
  17. "EU endorses damning report on CIA". BBC News Online. February 14, 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6360817.stm. Retrieved 2007-02-14.</li>
  18. EU rendition report: Key excerpts, on the BBC News website</li>
  19. RIGHTS: U.N. Blasts Practice of Outsourcing Torture (See above). URL accessed on 2005-12-18.</li>
  20. List of “Ghost Prisoners” Possibly in CIA Custody. URL accessed on 2005-12-18.</li>
  21. U.S. Holding at Least Twenty-Six “Ghost Detainees”. URL accessed on 2005-12-18.</li></ol>
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