Poland, Lithuania, Romania must tell all on CIA black sites, says Europe rights chief
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Poland, Romania and Lithuania should come clean on the “black sites”, where the US’s CIA is alleged to have tortured detainees on their soil, the European Council’s human rights chief, Thomas Hammarberg said on his blog today.
Detainees were kept for years in secret and incommunicado and subjected to forced nudity, shackling in stress positions, extended sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, slapping, walling and waterboarding.
The methods authorised “routinely crossed the threshold of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and in many cases constituted torture”, Hammarberg says.
Documents released under the US’s Freedom of Information Act show that there were sites in seven countries, including the three east European states.
“At the height of the ‘war on terror’, Poland, Romania and Lithuania extended quite extraordinary permissions and protections to their American partners while respecting conditions of total secrecy,” Hammarberg comments. “Today, years later, darkness still enshrouds those who authorised and ran the black sites on European territories.”
He picks out Romania, which hosted a black site for two years from 2003, as showing “little genuine will to uncover the whole truth” of what happened on its territory.
An investigation in Poland, which opened a site in 2002, should report as soon as possible and make its findings public, the council’s human rights commissioner says, adding that Lithuania, which has held a parliamentary inquiry and a pre-trial investigation, has still failed to answer the “essential questions”.
“The purported cost to transatlantic relations of pursuing such accountability cannot be compared to the damage inflicted on our European system of human rights protection by allowing ourselves to be kept in the dark” Hammarberg concludes.
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