C O U N C I L O F E U R O P E : : P A C E
STRASBOURG, France Dec. 13 -- At the meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's (PACE) Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights held in Paris today, the rapporteur and Chair of the Committee, Dick Marty, reported on the key aspects of his inquiry regarding the alleged existence of secret detention centres in Council of Europe member states and flights which may have transferred prisoners without any judicial involvement.
He said the following steps had been taken:
- Letters had been sent to the delegations to the PACE of the two countries explicitly mentioned in the media, namely Poland and Romania, and to the Permanent Observer of the United States to the Council of Europe (the Romanian Delegation replied on 17 November 2005, while the Permanent Observer of the United States had sent him a copy of a speech made by Ms Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, on 5 December 2005; to date, the Polish delegation had not replied).
- Letters requesting detailed information had been sent to the Director General of Eurocontrol and the Director of the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC). In an interim reply, the Eurocontrol Director had indicated that he first had to obtain the necessary authorisation to make an exception to the usual data protection rules, while the Deputy Director of the Satellite Centre had indicated that supplying images of the kind requested by Mr Marty was not part of the centre's usual remit. The Committee on Legal Affairs therefore called on the Council of the European Union (and Mr Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative of the EU for the CFSP) to intercede with the Satellite Centre so that progress could be made here and urged the European Commission and the member states of Eurocontrol to ensure that its executive body grant authorisation for the transmission of the data requested.
- The rapporteur had made direct contacts with NGOs, in particular Human Rights Watch, while PACE President René van der Linden had also been in contact with a number of individuals concerned (including an exchange of letters with Ms Rice); the rapporteur had also exchanged information with investigative journalists.
The rapporteur welcomed the opening by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe of the procedure under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights for the purpose of obtaining relevant information from all contracting parties to the convention.
He also expressed particular satisfaction at the willingness of Mr Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the European Commission, to co-operate closely with the Council of Europe on the matter. In this connection, he welcomed the participation of a representative of the European Commission and a member of the European Parliament at today's meeting.
From a general point of view, the rapporteur underlined that the information gathered to date reinforced the credibility of the allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries.
Legal proceedings in progress in certain countries seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for any legal standards. It had to be noted that the allegations had never been formally denied by the United States. The rapporteur takes note of the situation and deplores the fact that no information or explanations had been provided on this point by Ms Rice during her visit to Europe.
The rapporteur urges all member governments to commit themselves fully to establishing the truth about flights over their territories in recent years by aeroplanes carrying individuals arrested and detained without any judicial involvement. The Rapporteur intends to ask the leaders of the parlementary delegations to the Assembly to take initiatives within their parliaments in order to obtain more precise information on this matter, either by putting questions to their governments or by proposing the setting up of committees of enquiry. In fact, the delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly can make use of their unique position to lobby national parliaments to shed light on the matter. Mr Marty welcomes the fact that steps have already been taken here by certain national parliaments.
While it was still too early to assert that there had been any involvement or complicity of member states in illegal actions, the seriousness of the allegations and the consistency of the information gathered to date justified the continuation of an in-depth inquiry. If the allegations proved correct, the member states would stand accused of having seriously breached their human rights obligations to the Council of Europe.
In this connection, the rapporteur underlined that, although contacts between secret services were entirely normal and even necessary in the fight against terrorism, it was important for governments to exercise proper supervision over them (see here the detailed principles set out by the Assembly in Recommendation 1402 (1999) on control of internal security services in Council of Europe member states).
Dick Marty stressed that the aim of the Parliamentary Assembly, as the Council of Europe's political/parliamentary organ, was not to condemn individual countries or seek to impose penalties but to defend the values shared by the member states and combat terrorism resolutely and thoroughly, while, however, complying with the fundamental principles of states founded on the rule of law and the observance of human rights.
He announced that the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights will ask the Bureau of the Assembly to include in the order of business of the next PACE's plenary session (23-27 January 2006) an urgent debate on the issue.
BBC News: CIA Abduction Claims Credible