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Strasbourg: Rendition Victims Challenge Romania, Lithuania, in Court

  • Hearings on Wednesday at the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Romania and Lithuania for alleged complicity in the CIA-led rendition and secret detention programmes represent a milestone, Amnesty International said quoted by balkaninsight.com.

On Wednesday, the Strasbourg-based court held a public hearing in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national held at US military prison at Guantanamo, who accuses the Romanian government of allowing his detention and torture at a secret CIA base in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

A host of European states played a role in facilitating the enforced disappearance of people by the CIA in the aftermath of the 11 September 2011 attacks on the US, some of whom say they were later tortured. 

"Romania and Lithuania have never been held accountable for their direct involvement in CIA rendition and secret detention. Today’s hearing is a chance for the victims’ lawyers to set the facts out before the European Court in the hope that it will help break the conspiracy of silence," Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights in Europe, said.

A December 2014 report by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence included details of the torture suffered by al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah at the hands of the CIA, but US courts have declined to hear cases related to the CIA operations and there has been virtually no accountability to date for these abuses in the US.

In February 2016, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General closed an inquiry into European states’ roles in the CIA rendition and secret detention programme, dealing a severe blow to accountability.

The current European Court of Human Rights hearings are the last chance to lay bare the facts behind the CIA rendition programme in these countries.

"The hearings today on the human rights violations in Romania and Lithuania are all the more important, given that other avenues for accountability have been closed off to these victims of torture," Hall said.

Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists have intervened in the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights brought by Al-Nashiri against Romania and by Abu Zubaydah against Lithuania.

The US Senate in 2014 released a heavily redacted document of over 500 pages detailing the methods and practices that the CIA used to secretly detain and extract information from suspected terrorists in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks.

The report revealed details of brutal “enhanced interrogation techniques” used in secret prisons scattered across the world, including Romania.

The report also made multiple references to a “Detention Site Black”, which, according to Senate staff reports, was the code name for a secret CIA facility in Bucharest.

In September 2015, Romania's parliament again denied that the country hosted secret CIA prisons, but promised to cooperate with a European Parliament investigation.