European Court confirms Polish complicity in CIA rendition and torture
February 17, 2015
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has today confirmed its judgement that Poland actively assisted the CIA’s European “black site” programme, which saw detainees held and tortured in secret prisons across the Continent.
In July 2014, the ECHR had ruled that Poland “facilitated” the torture, secret detention and unlawful transfer of Abu Zubaydah, who is now held in Guantanamo Bay.
Mr Zubaydah was flown from a secret site in Thailand to another CIA prison in Stare Kiejkuty in northern Poland, where he was detained and tortured during 2002 and 2003. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) detailed in its recent report how Mr Zubaydah was subjected to torture numerous times by the CIA, before the Agency concluded that he was not a member of al Qaeda at all.
Today’s ruling by the ECHR confirms its 2014 judgement and rejects a request by Poland to refer it to its Grand Chamber for potential reconsideration.
The 2014 judgment described the evidence that Mr Zubaydah was detained in Poland as “coherent, clear and categorical,” and ruled that it was “inconceivable” that Poland was unaware of his mistreatment. It concluded that “Poland, for all practical purposes, facilitated the whole process, created the conditions for it to happen and made no attempt to prevent it from occurring.”
Kat Craig, legal director at human rights charity Reprieve, said: “The Court’s decision today is a crucial step forward for justice and accountability over the European role in the US torture programme. Poland’s attempts to avoid responsibility were rightly refused – it’s now time for the Polish authorities to admit their complicity in renditions, take their investigations seriously, and come clean about how they allowed these abuses on Polish soil.”