V. I. Lenin Economic and Philosophic Science Review

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World Socialist Review

edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles

Imperialism’s network of secret flights, hidden detention, disappearance and torture – EU report
On Wednesday 7 June 2006, the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) announced that its investigation confirmed that the US has woven a clandestine “spider’s web” of disappearances, secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers with the collaboration or tolerance of 14 Council of Europe member states, among them the 26 Counties.

PACE also said there are no excuses member states can use for their decision to allow US rendition flights for stop-overs or even air-space use. The fact that US authorities may have misguided European states cannot be accepted, under international law, as a justification not to carry out investigations into the possibility of the illegal transfer of detainees.

In a draft resolution adopted at a meeting in Paris, based on a report by Dick Marty (Switzerland, alde), the committee said hundreds of persons had become entrapped in this “spider’s web” - in some cases merely because they were suspected of sympathising with a particular organisaing with a particular organisation.

The document also denounced the lack of collaboration in the investigation by governments that are legally obliged to comply with international human rights legislation, and how they have opted for a culture of denial, “in many cases without actually having carried out any inquiries or serious investigations”.

On 17 March this year, member states had to be reminded by the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s group of legal experts, of their legal obligations under the human rights treaties to which they are signatories: “Under the Human Rights Convention, Council of Europe member states should refuse to allow transit of prisoners where there is a risk of torture. If this is suspected, they should search civil planes or refuse overflight to state planes. Agreements on military bases should be made conditional on respect for human rights.”

The Assembly is calling for its member states to carry out a proper investigation on the US military activity in their territory; to re-examine their bilateral agreements with the US; to protect possible whistle-blowers; and to urge the US to finish with their “rendition” flights.

A good definition of ‘rendition’ has been given by Washington Post commentator David Ignatius: “Rendition is the CIA’s antiseptic term for its practice of sending captured terrorist suspects to other countries for interrogation. Because some of those countries torture prisoners- and because some of the suspected terrorists “rendered” by the CIA say they were in fact tortured- the debate has tended to lump rendition and torture together. The implication is that the CIA is sending people to Egypt, Jordan or other Middle Eastern countries because they can be tortured there and coerced into providing information they wouldn’t give up otherwise.”

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