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Court: Lithuania and Romania complicity in CIA secret rendition led to multiple human rights violations
- Reprieve call for UK public inquiry
31.5.18
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"Multiple human rights violations by authorities in Lithuania and Romania resulted from the countries’ involvement with the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s secret rendition of suspected terrorists.

That is the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights, published today after the examination of two complaints – Press release (pdf) and Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania [Judgment] (application no. 46454/11) and Al Nashiri v. Romania (application no. 33234/12).

In the case Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania, the court held that Lithuania was to pay the applicant Zayn Al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, a stateless Palestinian, who is also known as Abu Zubaydah, 100,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage, and EUR 30,000 in respect of costs and expenses as just satisfaction (Article 41).

In the case Al Nashiri v. Romania, the court held that Romania was to pay Al Nashiri 100,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage, as just satisfaction (Article 41). He made no claim for costs and expenses.

The case Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania (application no. 46454/11) concerned the applicant’s allegations that Lithuania had let the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) transport him onto its territory under the secret extraordinary rendition programme and had allowed him to be subjected to ill-treatment and arbitrary detention in a CIA detention “black site”. He also complained that Lithuania had failed to carry out an effective investigation into his allegations.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

violations of Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights, because of the Government’s failure to effectively investigate Mr Husayn’s allegations and because of its complicity in the CIA’s actions that had led to ill-treatment;

and violations of Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to respect for private life), and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy), in conjunction with Article 3.

The court had no access to Husayn as he is still being held by the US authorities in very restrictive conditions so it had to establish the facts from various other sources. In particular, it gained key information from a US Senate Committee report on CIA torture which was released in December 2014. It also heard expert witness testimony.

The court concluded that Lithuania had hosted a secret CIA prison between February 2005 and March 2006, that Husayn had been detained there, and that the domestic authorities had known the CIA would subject him to treatment contrary to the Convention.

Lithuania had also permitted him to be moved to another CIA detention site in Afghanistan, exposing him to further ill-treatment.

The court found that Husayn had been within Lithuania’s jurisdiction and that the country had been responsible for the violations of his rights under the Convention.

It recommended that Lithuania conclude a full investigation of what Husayn’s case as quickly as possible and, if necessary, punish any officials responsible.

The country also had to make further representations to the United States to remove or limit the effects of the violations of his rights.

The court has today also found in the case Al Nashiri v. Romania (Press release, pdf) (Judgment, pdf) that Romania violated the rights of another CIA prisoner, Abd Al Rahim Husseyn Muhammad Al Nashiri, in similar circumstances.

The case Al Nashiri v. Romania (application no. 33234/12) concerned the applicant’s allegations that Romania had let the United States Central Intelligence Agency (the CIA) transport him under the secret extraordinary rendition programme onto its territory and had allowed him to be subjected to ill-treatment and arbitrary detention in a CIA detention “black site”.

He also complained that Romania had failed to carry out an effective investigation into his allegations.

The applicant in the case, Abd Al Rahim Husseyn Muhammad Al Nashiri, is facing capital charges in the US for his alleged role in terrorist attacks.

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

violations of Article 3 (prohibition of torture) of the European Convention on Human Rights, because of the Romanian Government’s failure to effectively investigate Al Nashiri’s allegations and because of its complicity in the CIA’s actions that had led to ill-treatment;

violations of Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to respect for private life), and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) in conjunction with Articles 3, 5 and 8,

violations of Article 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time), and Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 taken together with Article 1 of Protocol No. 6 (abolition of the death penalty) because Romania had assisted in Al Nashiri’s transfer from its territory in spite of a real risk that he could face a flagrant denial of justice and the death penalty.

The court had no access to Al Nashiri as he is still being held by the US authorities in very restrictive conditions so it had to establish the facts from various other sources. In particular, it gained key information from a US Senate report on CIA torture which was released in December 2014. It also heard expert witness testimony.

The court concluded that Romania had hosted a secret CIA prison, which had the code name, Detention Site Black, between September 2003 and November 2005, that Al Nashiri had been detained there for about 18 months, and that the domestic authorities had known the CIA would subject him to treatment contrary to the Convention.

Romania had also permitted him to be moved to another CIA detention site located either in Afghanistan (Detention Site Brown) or in Lithuania (Detention Site Violet), as found in another judgment delivered today Abu Zubaydah v. Lithuania, thus exposing him to further ill-treatment.

The court therefore found that Al Nashiri had been within Romania’s jurisdiction and that the country had been responsible for the violation of his rights under the Convention.

It also recommended that Romania conclude a full investigation into Al Nashiri’s case as quickly as possible and, if necessary, punish any officials responsible. The country should also seek assurances from the United States that Al Nashiri will not suffer the death penalty."

European anti-torture ruling shows need for UK public inquiry (Reprieve, link):

"In a significant anti-torture ruling, the European Court Of Human Rights has held that Lithuania and Romania violated the rights of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri by allowing them to be detained at CIA ‘black sites’ on European soil.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was subjected to “inhuman treatment” at the secret prison in Romania, which operated from 2003-2005. Abu Zubaydah was tortured at a black site in Lithuania that the CIA ran from 2005-6. The new CIA director, Gina Haspel, oversaw the torture of Mr al Nashiri at a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002. (...)

This ruling comes shortly after the UK Government’s unreserved apology to Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Fatima Boudchar, who were abducted by the CIA with British help and rendered to Libya, despite the likelihood they would be tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s secret service. (...)

Reprieve is calling for a full, judge-led public inquiry, to establish how Britain let these innocent people down so badly and uncover the extent of UK involvement in rendition and torture."

See: Statewatch Observatory on CIA Rendition

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