European Parliament votes for accountability of members' torture, rendition complicity

On September 11, 2012, the European Parliament ('EP') overwhelmingly approved the adoption of a report by its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs highlighting the complicity of member states with the global CIA-led rendition and secret detention program. The report, which pushed for countries to fulfill their legal obligation to investigate their role in the program, called for EU-wide accountability while giving primary focus to three EU countries known or alleged to have hosted secret CIA detention sites: Lithuania, Poland and Romania. With 568 votes approving and only 35 votes against adoption, it sends a clear message that the EP will not turn a blind eye to its own complicity in past human rights abuses and places emphasis on actions to address any future findings. EP rapporteur/draftsperson and Green MEP Hélène Flautre stated:

"The EP has again shone the spotlight on serious human rights abuses by the CIA in the EU and, in doing so, kept the pressure  on to ensure these abuses are finally addressed. 5 years on from the original investigations into CIA abuses in the EU and, despite new evidence of violations surfacing, proper accountability or redress remains outstanding in many member states and at EU level. A large majority of MEPs has today supported my recommendations for concrete ways by which the EU's institutions and governments should improve the accountability process. "

According to Amnesty International, between 2001 and 2006, at least 16 European countries in have in part, facilitated CIA rendition flights. The extraordinary rendition program involves the covert, extrajudicial kidnapping of 'suspected terrorists' worldwide for interrogation at secret CIA-backed 'black sites' where they are often tortured and otherwise ill-treate. To date, not a single country in the European Union has complied with its legal obligation to hold a full and effective investigation into its role in the CIA program. However, the report comes on the heels of a rulling by Italy's highest appeals court upholding the guilty verdicts of 22 CIA agents and one U.S. Air Force pilot tried in absentia for the 2003 kidnapping of Abu Omar of the streets of Milan. The trial was he first of its kind involving extraordinary rendition.

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