by the stormy present
Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 04:56:19 AM EST
A quick post-and-run this morning.... I thought I'd draw your attention to a few recent statements by Human Rights Watch concerning the EU.
Today, HRW put out a new statement and briefing paper on the role of EU states in CIA renditions, and it ain't pretty.
From the diaries -- whataboutbob
From the statement:
The briefing paper shows how EU states have relied upon empty promises of humane treatment, known as "diplomatic assurances," in efforts to justify the return of terrorism suspects to countries where they risk being tortured. In the report adopted today, the European Parliament's Temporary Committee on illegal CIA activity in Europe focuses on CIA flights and US-sponsored transfers of terrorism suspects. It also calls on EU member states to oppose the use of "diplomatic assurances" on torture in returning terrorism suspects. Europe pioneered the use of these "no torture" promises in the 1990s, well before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
"The European Parliament is right to focus on ending European complicity in illegal CIA activity," said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director of Human Rights Watch. "But if Europe is serious about ending its complicity in torture, it also needs to stop homegrown policies that undermine the global ban on torture."
EU states such as the United Kingdom and Sweden have been among the most vocal proponents of employing diplomatic assurances to deport and extradite terrorism suspects. The UK is currently trying to deport terrorism suspects based on blanket no-torture promises from countries like Jordan and Libya. Austria, the Netherlands and Germany have also employed diplomatic assurances in attempts to extradite alleged terrorists to countries where they face the risk of torture. These EU governments have argued that diplomatic assurances allow them to deport or extradite terrorism suspects safely.
But the Human Rights Watch briefing paper, which includes research conducted over the last three years, indicates that promises from governments that practice torture or target specific groups for such abuse are unreliable, unenforceable and ineffective. The most notorious example involves Sweden, which sent two Egyptian terrorism suspects to Cairo in December 2001 in the hands of the CIA, based on promises of humane treatment. Both were tortured on their return, despite visits from Swedish diplomats. Two UN bodies - the Committee Against Torture and the Human Rights Committee - have since ruled that Sweden's actions in the case violated the international ban on returning people to a risk of torture.
"Diplomatic assurances simply do not protect against torture," said Cartner. "European governments have used these empty promises as a fig leaf to justify sending people to places where they risk being tortured."
The briefing paper itself details cases in Austria, Canada (OK, not the EU, but tell that to them), German, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, the UK and the USA.
A few weeks ago, HRW released its annual global human rights report and said the EU was "punching well below its weight," but appears to have given up on the United States entirely.
For further discussion, here's Human Rights Watch's 2007 World Report.
From the press release:
With US credibility undermined by the Bush administration's use of torture and detention without trial, the European Union must fill the leadership void on human rights [....]
Today marks five years since the United States first sent detainees to Guantanamo. The Bush administration has proven largely incapable of providing leadership on human rights, while China and Russia are embracing tyrants in their quest for resources and influence. But rather than assuming the leadership mantle, the European Union's approach is mired in procedures that emphasize internal unanimity and rotation over the effective projection of EU influence to protect human rights, said the 556-page volume's introductory essay.
"Since the US can't provide credible leadership on human rights, European countries must pick up the slack," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "Instead, the European Union is punching well below its weight."
Human Rights Watch lamented the "lowest common denominator approach" to rights protection by EU member states, in which governments that favor accommodation drag down those seeking a tougher approach to serious rights abuses. Examples include the EU's backtracking on the sanctions it imposed following the May 2005 massacre in the Uzbek city of Andijan and its weak response to the 2005 royal coup in Nepal. Similarly, while abusive governments banded together to block effective action at the United Nations' new Human Rights Council, the EU's ability to respond was crippled by its micromanaging approach and need for consensus.
Right then. Let the feeding frenzy begin.
I'm in meetings all day, so I'll let y'all argue this amongst yourselves. Be nice. Or... at least polite.