February 12, 2007
European governments should distance themselves from the CIA’s illegal and short-sighted policies by taking actions recommended by the report. They ought to sanction countries found to have violated human rights, and compensate innocent victims of rendition.
Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch

The European Parliament should condemn European complicity in the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) program of “extraordinary renditions” and secret detention of prisoners, Human Rights Watch said today.

The report of the European Parliament’s Committee on CIA activities in Europe (TDIP) will be voted upon at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, February 14. The report confirms that European complicity allowed CIA renditions and secret detentions to occur.

“This report shows, unfortunately, that Europe’s hands weren’t clean,” said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “European governments should distance themselves from the CIA’s illegal and short-sighted policies by taking actions recommended by the report. They ought to sanction countries found to have violated human rights, and compensate victims of rendition.”

The report also recommends that countries launch their own “independent investigations into what happened,” and “immediately seek the return of their citizens and residents who are being held illegally by US authorities, and compensate the innocent victims of extraordinary renditions.”

According to the report, more than 1,245 CIA-operated flights were operated through European airspace between 2001 and 2005. The report found that European countries had been “turning a blind eye” to such flights, which “on some occasions, were being used for extraordinary rendition or the illegal transportation of detainees.” The report sets forth 21 cases of persons who were resident in a European state at the time of their abduction or were transferred through a European country.

It also said that secret detention facilities “may have been located at US military bases” in Europe.

The report also accused high-ranking EU officials, including Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, of not cooperating with the investigation and not revealing all they knew about the US secret detention program.

Human Rights Watch representatives testified before the TDIP committee in February and May 2006.

“It’s time for European governments to investigate and prosecute these abuses,” said Leicht. “Criminal cases underway in Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal may bring some of those responsible to justice and shed new light on these crimes.”