Council of Europe slams NATO over secret prisons

2 July 2007

Council of Europe slams NATO over secret prisons

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has expressed its regret over NATO's refusal to cooperate in an investigation into the secret prisons and prisoner transports whose existence was recently confirmed by a report commissioned by the Assembly. PACE called on NATO to reveal details of the 2001 agreements concerning its involvement in this CIA operation, voting to support a proposal to that effect from the United European Left (GUE), the political group chaired by SP Senator Tiny Kox. .

PACE, in which all European parliaments are represented, discussed at some length at last week's plenary meeting in Strasbourg the controversial second report from Rapporteur Dick Marty of Switzerland on the secret prisons and prisoner transports, reaching agreement on his conclusions and recommendations. The facts are clear and accepted by the Assembly: that there were secret prisons, certainly in Poland and Romania; and that people who were suspected by the CIA of involvement in terrorism were interrogated and sometimes tortured in these prisons. Also confirmed is the cooperation of a number of European countries, despite complete and persistent denials. Following the acceptance of the report the Romanian delegation threatened that it would no longer participate in the work of the Parliamentary Assembly, and the Polish delegation also spoke in threatening terms. This however had no influence whatsoever on the Assembly, which voted by a large majority to support the Rapporteur's conclusions and recommendations.

A revelation new to the second report is that NATO was also involved in the system of secret prisons and transports. After the US had, in 2001, issued a call for mutual support under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, NATO became, according to the Rapporteur, 'a platform where the United States received the go-ahead and protective measures necessary in order to be able to begin the secret operations in the "war against terrorism".'

To date NATO is refusing to cooperate in the Council of Europe enquiry. SP Senator Tiny Kox, chair of the United European Left in PACE, said that he was "pleased with the broad support which our group received from all of the other groups for the proposal to call on NATO to cooperate by making secret information available." There was also support for the GUE's proposal that an urgent request be made to the governments and parliaments of NATO's member states that they cooperate in bringing to
light more information on the secret CIA flights and the use of secret prisons in Europe.

Other topics discussed at last week's PACE gathering included the need for an international moratorium on the death penalty, the social dimension of Europe, combating anti-semitism and the state of play at the International Criminal Tribunal on former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal's chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte was present for this last debate. Finally, a discussion was held on the recent European Council summit, in the presence of Austria's Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and European Parliament chair Hans-Gert Pöttering.

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