European Parliament demands renewed investigation into CIA secret prisons

July 12, 2012

The European Parliament’s Justice Committee has demanded that European countries make greater efforts to investigate CIA renditions and secret prisons on their territory.

The call follows last week’s release of new flight data on CIA flights through Romania by legal action charity Reprieve.

In a new report, the committee states that member states “have not properly fulfilled” their obligation “to investigate serious human rights violations connected with the CIA programme”.

Such a failure, say MEPs, “undermines mutual trust in fundamental rights protection”. MEPs also insisted that “arguments based on state secrecy can never be employed to limit legal obligations of states to investigate serious human rights violations”.

The responses of many member states have until now been patchy. Romania – where Associated Press and ARD Panorama published the location of a secret prison last December – closed a parliamentary inquiry in 2008 without addressing either the range of aircraft involved in the renditions programme or the likely locations of prison sites.

Lithuania concluded a prosecutorial investigation in 2011 but failed to identify key flights from Morocco and Romania into Lithuania and from Lithuania to Afghanistan. Other countries – including Italy, Portugal, Spain, Austria and France – failed to respond to access to information requests from Reprieve and Access Info Europe concerning rendition flights.

The Committee has now called on all member states to “respect the right to freedom of information and to respond appropriately to requests for access to information”.

Reprieve investigator Crofton Black said: “For many years European countries, including the UK, have tried to avoid accountability and keep the history of CIA prisons in Europe hidden from European citizens. The Justice Committee’s new report is a reminder that, in the face of continuing revelations about the ‘black site’ programme, European governments still have a lot to do before they can consider that their obligations have been discharged. Otherwise, history will judge their feeble investigative efforts harshly.”


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 427 1082 /

2. The Committee’s press release on their report can be found here.

3. AP’s report on Romania’s secret prison can be found here.

4. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penaltyaround the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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