In a hard hitting report, a US human rights organisation has asked the Obama administration to repudiate the CIA’s practice of extraordinary rendition and stop transferring individuals to foreign countries on the basis of “diplomatic assurances” against torture.
At least 54 countries, including Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan Syria, Iran, Australia and Britain, offered CIA “covert support” to detain, transport, interrogate and torture suspects in the years following the 9/11 attacks, according to the report authored by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s daughter, Amrit Singh.
The 213-page report was released by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), part of New York-based Open Society Foundation (OSF), where Amrit Singh works as senior legal officer, National Security and Counterterrorism.
The report, titled “Globalising Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition”, documents wide-ranging international involvement in the American campaign against Al Qaeda.
It provides a detailed account of other countries covertly helping the US to run secret prisons, also known as “black sites” on their territory and allowing the CIA to use national airports for refueling while transporting prisoners.
It cites the cases of 136 people who have undergone this extraordinary rendition, saying 54 countries have been involved since 2001.
Of the countries alleged to be involved in the extraordinary renditions, 25 are in Europe, 14 in Asia and 13 in Africa. The other two are Australia and Canada.
“Both the secret detention programme and the extraordinary rendition programme were highly classified, conducted outside the US, and designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of the law,” it said.
“Torture was a hallmark of both,” the report said noting the administration of President George W. Bush embraced the “dark side”, a new paradigm for countering terrorism with little regard for the constraints of domestic and international law.
“There can be no doubt that in today’s world, intergovernmental cooperation is necessary for combating terrorism,” it said.
“But such cooperation must be effected in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law.”
Noting that under the Obama administration the US government’s position on torture and rendition has changed substantively, the report asks the US to repudiate the CIA’s practice of extraordinary rendition and cease reliance on “diplomatic assurances” against torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as a basis for transferring individuals to foreign countries.
Asking the administration to reaffirm and extend the commitment to close secret CIA detention facilities by prohibiting secret detention, it also wants the US to conduct an effective and thorough criminal investigation into human rights abuses associated with CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.
The report has received widespread condemnation of the practice.
In Europe, Media said up to two dozen European countries including the UK could face proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights from their involvement in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition operations after 9/11.