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CIA rendition programme: UN expert in human rights and counter-terrorism expert asks for truth and accountability

GENEVA (6 March 2013) – United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, urged the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom to release the findings of confidential inquiries into the George W. Bush administration’s secret Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) detention and interrogation practices.

In a detailed report* presented to the to the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Emmerson called on the US authorities “to publish without delay, and to the fullest extent possible, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report into the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation programme.” He also called upon the British Government to make public the interim report of the Gibson Inquiry, and establish a timetable for the proposed judge-led inquiry, stating its mandate and powers.

Based on the principle of accountability for grave or systematic human rights violations while countering terrorism, the independent expert highlighted “the failure to date of the international community to secure full responsibility for the acts of certain sections of the CIA during the Presidency of George W. Bush in implementing a programme of torture, rendition and secret detention of terrorist suspects.”

The Special Rapporteur also drew attention to the lack of accountability for “the acts of public officials in other States who colluded in that programme,” and proposed a series of framework principles recommendations to States for securing the right to truth and the principle of accountability for gross or systematic human rights violations committed by public officials while countering terrorism.

“Those individuals found to have participated in secretly detaining persons and in any unlawful acts perpetrated during such detention, including their superiors if they have ordered, encouraged or consented to secret detentions, should be prosecuted without delay and, where found guilty, given sentences commensurate with the gravity of the acts perpetrated,” he stressed, recalling the 2010 recommendation by the UN Joint study on global practices in relation to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism.

Mr. Emmerson urged world Governments, particularly those which allegedly enabled the use of their airspace and landing facilities for CIA rendition flights, to review their domestic law and practice, including a review of the investigations, if any, that have so far been conducted by their national authorities, in order to bring them into conformity with the principles proposed in his report.

In his recommendations, the Special Rapporteur also called on the Governments of Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Romania and Thailand to launch or re-open “effective independent judicial or quasi-judicial inquiries into credible allegations that secret CIA ‘black sites’ were established on their territories; to identify any public officials who may have authorised or collaborated in the establishment or operation of these facilities; to publish the findings of such inquiries; and to hold the relevant officials publicly accountable for their actions.”

Ben Emmerson (United Kingdom) is the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. On 1 August 2011, he took up his functions on the mandate that was created in 2005 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and renewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three year period in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Terrorism/Pages/SRTerrorismIndex.aspx

(*) Check the full report: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session22/A-HRC-22-52_en.pdf

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