June 14, 2006

EU, US “partners” on CIA flights: Amnesty

By Ingrid Melander

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Amnesty International urged European
states on Wednesday to stop being "partners in crime" with the
United States over the alleged kidnapping of terrorism suspects
and their transfer to countries that use torture.

In a report and a letter addressed to EU leaders meeting on
Thursday and Friday in Brussels, the human rights group backed
accusations that the CIA ran secret transfer flights known as
"renditions," and that European countries were aware of them.

"There is irrefutable evidence of European complicity in
the unlawful practice of renditions," Amnesty said in the

"The European Council must therefore put a resolute stop to
the attitude of see no evil, hear no evil that has prevailed so
far," Amnesty said, referring to the EU summit.

The human rights group urged EU leaders to say in their
meeting this week that the so-called rendition flights were
"unacceptable" and to make sure their airspace and airports
were not used for such flights in the future.

It asked EU leaders to raise the issue with President Bush
when they meet him in Vienna on June 21, saying the bloc's
credibility was at stake.

Amnesty's report draws largely the same conclusions as
those issued by EU lawmakers on Monday, and last week by the
Council of Europe, a European human rights watchdog. None
produced hard evidence.

The Council of Europe report said more than 20 mostly
European countries colluded in a "global spider's web" of
secret CIA jails and flight transfers of terrorist suspects
that stretched from Asia to Guantanamo Bay.

In a new report published on Wednesday, the Council's
Secretary General Terry Davis said additional information from
member states confirmed that many countries lacked adequate
safeguards against human rights violations by foreign agents.

"Very few countries appear to have adopted adequate and
effective procedures to monitor whether aircraft transiting
through their airspace are used for purposes incompatible with
the European Convention on Human Rights," it said.

Davis would shortly make recommendations on legal measures
that could be taken on the national and European levels to
reinforce existing protection against rendition and illegal
detention, the Council of Europe said.

Amnesty reported on six suspected cases of abuses by the
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in which it said seven
countries -- Germany, Italy, Sweden, Britain, Bosnia, Macedonia
and Turkey -- were involved.

(Additional reporting by Kerstin Gehmlich)