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In a landmark ruling, the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg has condemned Lithuania and Romania for complicity in torture by the CIA of terrorism suspects, held in secret prisons in Europe. The case was brought by two detainees, currently being held in Guantanamo Bay, who complained that these countries failed to carry out investigations into his allegations of being tortured by the CIA on their territory.
The torture was part of a wider CIA programme of black sites, torture and "extraordinary rendition". In 2006-2007 I was part of a European Parliament inquiry committee that investigated this programme. We found that many EU countries had been in one way or another complicit in the programme, either by actively supporting it, or by turning a blind eye. The inquiry followed an inquiry by the Council of Europe and revelations by the Washington Post and Human Rights Watch. There were several national parliamentary inquiries, as well as a range of judicial inquiries, which in some cases led to in absentia convictions of CIA agents. But governments of EU member states have to date consistently refused to acknowledge any responsibility. But without accountability, the EU cannot have moral authority.
In addition, the recently appointed head of the CIA, Mrs Gina Haspel, is closely connected to the CIA programme of black sites and torture. Her track record is extremely problematic for transatlantic security cooperation.
It is unacceptable that Europe should work together and share information with an organisation headed by someone who was co-responsible for crimes that have been condemned by a European court.
There cannot be impunity for those who are responsible for the crime of torture on EU territory, be it European governments, or American intelligence agencies.
The European Parliament has never closed the chapter. Today's ruling is a reason to reopen the file and continue to seek the truth and justice.