|Author (Person)||Cronin, David|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.12, No.18, 11.5.06|
MEPs probing allegations of European collusion with human rights abuses by the CIA took their investigation to Washington this week.
A 13-strong delegation from the European Parliament has been unable to realise its ambitions of questioning senior figures in the Bush administration or the CIA. Instead, it has had to make do with meeting lower-ranking officials such as John Bellinger, the legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and politicians such as Congressman Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.
The Parliament's investigation is one of several being undertaken in response to press reports that the CIA ran secret prisons in Europe and used the continent's airspace to fly detainees to destinations where torture is systematic.
The parliamentary assembly of the 46-country Council of Europe is to discuss the report on the investigation headed by Swiss senator Dick Marty next month. Investigations are either under way or have been concluded in several national assemblies, including Sweden and Germany, while a judicial investigation into the abduction of an Egyptian national has taken place in Italy.
This mosaic of investigations has raised concerns that work is being duplicated in a manner that could prove counterproductive. "There is a slight competition, rather than co-operation, among institutions working on human rights," said a senior official in the Council of Europe. "If governments receive different messages, they could begin to play one [institution] against the other."
The Parliament's committee has been hamstrung by its restrictive mandate. A temporary body, with no legal powers to compel witnesses to give evidence, it has heard many complaints from its members that European governments are not forthcoming with the information it seeks. So far, the committee has been unable to quiz NATO officials on the role which its stabilisation force in Bosnia is suspected of playing in abducting six Algerians in the former Yugoslav country.
Charles Tannock, a UK Conservative member of the committee, has branded the investigation "a waste of time and money", suggesting that his colleagues who felt they could obtain sensitive intelligence from security services were naive.
Socialist MEP Claude Moraes has conceded that the probe will struggle to find a "smoking gun". Nonetheless, Moraes believes that the committee has enjoyed some success in highlighting credible testimonies from those who claim they have been abducted by the CIA.
A similar view has been expressed by some who have appeared before the committee. Edward Horgan, a retired officer with the Irish army who served on several UN peacekeeping missions, said the committee was "already shining a light on the blackness of torture".
Horgan has presented a dossier to the committee, which contains what he called "overwhelming circumstantial evidence" that Shannon Airport, a favourite refuelling stop for US military planes travelling to or from Iraq and Afghanistan, has been used in a secretive war on terror that breaches international human rights law. Now an anti-war activist, Horgan first spotted a Gulfstream jet registered N379P landing at Shannon in early 2003. The plane has subsequently become known as 'the Guant�mo Express'.
Horgan said he believed that "well in excess of 100" CIA planes and those used by suspected front companies had passed through Shannon. "It is inconceivable that these were not taking prisoners to and from Guant�mo Bay," he said.
Italian Socialist Giovanni Fava, the committee's rapporteur, recently presented a draft version of his interim report on the allegations. The committee will endorse his paper - or a modified version of it - in June, with his final report not expected to emerge until the autumn.
Fava has stated that it is "implausible" that his country's authorities or secret services were not given prior notification of the CIA's abduction of Egyptian citizen Abu Omar in Milan during 2003.
Other allegations considered by the committee include:
Article reports on a visit to Washington by a 13-strong delegation from the European Parliament probing allegations of European collusion with human rights abuses by the CIA. The group of MEPs was unable to realise its ambitions of questioning senior figures in the Bush administration or the CIA.
|Subject Categories||Security and Defence, Values and Beliefs|
|Countries / Regions||Europe, United States|