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EU Council rebukes US on secret prisons

[JURIST] One week after US President Bush confirmed [JURIST report; speech transcript] the existence of secret prisons for high-value terror suspects [CRS report text, via Secrecy News] run by the US Central Intelligence Agency [official website] abroad, top-level members of the Council of the European Union [official website] publicly criticized [press release] the program Friday. According to an EU press release:

Ministers reiterated their commitment to combating terrorism effectively, using all legal means and instruments available. Terrorism is itself a threat to a system of values based on the rule of law.

They reiterated that, in combating terrorism, human rights and humanitarian standards have to be maintained. Accordingly, they acknowledged the intention of the United States administration to treat all detainees in accordance with the provisions of the Geneva Convention and the assurances about ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) access.

The existence of secret detention facilities where detained persons are kept in a legal vacuum is not in conformity with international humanitarian law and international criminal law.
Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, the current rotating president of the European Union, and EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gijs de Vries [official website], among others, said human rights [JURIST news archive] cannot be sacrificed in combating terror. Reuters has more.

Earlier this week, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the human rights watchdog Council of Europe [official website] denounced the US-run secret prisons [JURIST report] and criticized the reported use of torture on terror suspects.

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