The Council of Europe (COE) [official website] Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg [official profile] on Thursday accused European governments of numerous human rights violations [statement] during counter-terrorism efforts over the past 10 years. Hammarberg said that many European countries began helping the US with secret counter-terrorism measures after the 9/11 attacks [JURIST archive]. Those measures allegedly included rendition of suspects with the cooperation of local police and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website], detention in covert facilities and interrogation involving torture. The efforts bypassed traditional judicial systems in European nations:
Governments across the European continent have acted in line with the wishes of the US to prevent proper investigations, and particularly judicial scrutiny, of the abuses arising from rendition operations. The message is cleargood relations between the security agencies are deemed more important than preventing torture and other serious human rights violations.Hammarberg accused officials of covering up evidence of the crimes. He also called on COE member states to begin immediate investigations into rights violations and to allow the crimes to face judicial scrutiny.
The COE's renewed call for investigations into counter-terrorism actions corresponds with the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In 2006, the COE urged member states to launch investigations after accusing [JURIST report] 14 European countries of collaborating with the CIA by taking an active or passive role in a "global spider's web" of secret prisons and rendition flights. The accusation followed publication of a COE report [PDF] detailing the results of an investigation into alleged secret detention centers [COE materials] and illegal rendition flights operated by the CIA in Europe. The report also referenced the cases of 17 detainees who claim they were kidnapped by US agents and transported to facilities around the globe, including in Romania and Poland. The European Parliament [official website] that year also conducted a similar investigation [JURIST report].