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Parliamentary Question: New developments on the CIA extraordinary renditions programme and secret prisons on EU soil


Parliamentary questions

13 April 2010 O-0043/10 ORAL QUESTION WITH DEBATE pursuant to Rule 115 of the Rules of Procedure by Sophia in 't Veld, Leonidas Donskis, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Marietje Schaake, Alexander Alvaro, Renate Weber, Nadja Hirsch, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Olle Schmidt, Gianni Vattimo and Baroness Sarah Ludford, on behalf of the ALDE Group to the Commission Subject: New developments on the CIA extraordinary renditions programme and secret prisons on EU soil In 2009 the media revealed that a secret prison had operated in Lithuania(1) from 2004 to 2005, where torture was allegedly used to interrogate international terrorism suspects, leading the Parliament to open a third inquiry; Lithuania allegedly agreed to the prison after former President Bush pledged to support Lithuania’s entry into NATO. In Poland, after a parliamentary inquiry denied the presence of secret prisons on Polish soil, prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation regarding the alleged existence of a prison near a former military air base(2); in February 2010 newly released information from the Polish aviation agency confirmed that a number of rendition flights had landed on Polish territory. On 4 November 2009 an Italian court convicted 23 US nationals in absentia and two Italian intelligence officials for their involvement in the kidnapping of Abu Omar in Milan in December 2003, secretly rendered to Egypt where he claimed he was tortured and ill-treated; successive governments invoked ‘state secrets’ to avoid disclosure of important evidence(3); one of the convicted CIA agents admitted to the media that they ‘broke the law’ and that decisions were taken in Washington, while the US Administration declared that they were ‘disappointed’ by the Italian Court judgment(4). In the UK, the government repeatedly opposed the release of evidence demonstrating that UK intelligence services were involved in the interrogation and knew of the torture and ill-treatment of UK resident Binyam Mohamed by CIA agents; the High Court dismissed on 19 November 2009 – for the sixth time – the government’s request to withhold the information(5). Finally, a UN joint special rapporteurs’ study on ‘global practices in relation to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism’ lists a series of EU Member States among those involved in such illegal practices. What steps does the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, intend to take to ensure that truth and justice are brought to bear in relation to fundamental rights violations that took place on EU soil, and that such abuses do not happen in the future? Can the Commission provide a detailed account of what it has done so far in response to these serious allegations and share with the European Parliament its correspondence with Member States? Is the Commission aware of the NATO agreement of 4 October 2001 and what will it do to ensure that the EU does not sacrifice democracy and fundamental rights in the fight against terrorism and in its cooperation with third States, notably the US? Will the Commission raise these issues with Member States to request prompt, transparent and impartial inquiries into allegations of torture, as well as with the US? (1); (2) (3) (4) (5)