By Oleg Severgin
It had seemed that the sordid matter of CIA secret prisons scattered all over the world, including European states was closed. After the publications in the press of several revelations followed by exhaustive investigations by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, PACE led by the Swiss senator and former prosecutor, Dick Marti, the CIA announced in April 2009 the closure of all the secret jails in foreign countries in accordance with the instruction of the U.S. President, Barack Obama. However, the European parliament has decided to reopen the case.
The scandal of the CIA’s secret jails broke out in 2005 with a publication in the Washington Post. In 2007 the European parliament set up a special Committee, to investigate an allegation that the CIA had brought people suspected of terrorism to secret prisons in the world, including EU member countries, Poland, Lithuania and Romania for interrogation.
A few days ago, human rights activists, who had gathered fresh information about the involvement of several European countries in the CIA rendition, addressed the special committee.
The head of the World Organization Against Torture, Gerald Staberock told members of the committee that some EU members didn’t do anything to find out the truth about torture. This is despite the fact that they had pledged to refrain from using torture or to be passive accomplices. Human rights advocates say that EU members implicated in the CIA renditions want to put a lid on the matter, but the EU should take the initiative and open the dossier on the heart-breaking information.
The EU parliament will decide whether to send a special delegation to Lithuania at the end of April, to investigate the new facts about the secret prisons of the CIA, at the end of the meeting of the Union’s special committee. The committee should present a report of its findings in July, while a parliamentary debate on it will take place in September. Why pick on Lithuania, particularly giving that In January 2011, the Prosecutor General closed the investigations into the secret prisons case, citing the statute of limitation. Quite recently though, an inmate of the American Guantanamo prison, Abu Subaydah, a Palestinian, announced an intention to sue the authorities of Lithuania in the European Court of Human Rights, claiming he was detained in the CIA secret jail in that country and severely tortured. He is demanding further investigations.
It is difficult to say whether his case will actually be heard, but it will be interesting to know why European MPs are so adamant in reopening the secret prison scandal . This is what Dmitry Danilov, head of the European Security section at the Institute of Europe has to say on that issue.
“The reopening of that case is probably linked to two important developments. First, new facts are coming to light, and they cannot be ignored. second, When administrations change as they are going to do not only in the U.S., but also in a number of large European states, serious political problems inevitably take on greater acuteness. In this instance, the issue is a transformation of the future ties between the U.S. and Europe. The prison scandal is a convenient topic to use to form a new concept of dialogue between Europe and America”, said Dmitry Danilov.
The German Der Tagessriegel calls the return to the prison scandal a “belated awakening”. But as they say better late than never. The most important thing is to ensure that human rights advocates in Europe do not apply double standards in their search for the truth.