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Europe rights watchdog condemns US Guantanamo practices

[JURIST] The Council of Europe, the continent's human rights watchdog institution, condemned US detention practices at Guantanamo Bay Tuesday in a sharply-worded resolution [text] passed by the parliamentary assembly of the 41-nation body accusing the US of having "betrayed its own highest principles in the zeal with which it has attempted to pursue the 'war on terror'." The Council asserted that the Guantanamo Bay detentions had showed "unlawfulness and inconsistency with the rule of law" on multiple grounds:

.i. many if not all detainees have been subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment occurring as a direct result of official policy, authorised at the very highest levels of government;

ii. many detainees have been subjected to ill-treatment amounting to torture which has occurred systematically and with the knowledge and complicity of the US Government;

iii. the rights of those detained in connection with the international armed conflict previously conducted by the USA in Afghanistan to be presumptively recognised as prisoners-of-war (POWs) and to have their status independently determined by a competent tribunal were not respected;

iv. there have been numerous violations of various aspects of all detainees’ rights to liberty and security of the person, making their detention arbitrary;

v. there have been numerous violations of various aspects of all detainees’ rights to fair trial, amounting to a flagrant denial of justice;

vi. the USA has engaged in the unlawful practice of secret detention;

vii. the USA has, by practicing “rendition” (removal of persons to other countries, without judicial supervision, for purposes such as interrogation or detention), allowed detainees to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in violation of the principle of non-refoulement;

viii. US proposals to return or transfer detainees to other countries, even where reliant on “diplomatic assurances” concerning the detainees’ subsequent treatment, risk violating the principle of non-refoulement.
The Council called on European states not to co-operate with US extradition or rendition efforts and urged the United States itself to "ensure that the 'war on terror' is conducted in all respects in accordance with international law, particularly international human rights and humanitarian law." A Pentagon spokesman said US policy prohibited torture and insisted that the Guantanamo detentions were humane and had yielded valuable intelligence information. AP has more.

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