[JURIST] At least 54 countries participated [press release] in the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] overseas detention and rendition of at least 136 people, the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF] Tuesday. According to the report, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 [JURIST backgrounder] the CIA began a secret detention program in which suspected terrorists were held in CIA “black sites” outside of the US where they were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” that included torture and abuse. The CIA also gained the authority, under the Bush administration, to engage in “extraordinary rendition” [JURIST news archive], the transfer without legal process of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for detention and interrogation. The 54 governments identified cross Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. The report stated that responsibility for the program fell with both the US and the other countries:
In the face of this trend, the time has come for the United States and its partner governments to own up to their responsibility for secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations. If they do not seize this opportunity, chances are that the truth will emerge by other means to embarrass them. The taint of torture associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations will continue to cling to the United States and its partner governments as long as they fail to air the truth and hold their officials accountable. The impunity currently enjoyed by responsible parties also paves the way for future abuses in counterterrorism operations. There can be no doubt that in today’s world, intergovernmental cooperation is necessary for combating terrorism. But such cooperation must be effected in a manner that is consistent with the rule of law. … Consistent with this principle, it is incumbent on the United States and its partner governments to repudiate secret detention and extraordinary rendition, secure accountability for human rights violations associated with these operations, and ensure that future counterterrorism operations do not violate human rights standards.
The report made nine recommendations to the US government, including repudiating the rendition program and the creation of a non-partisan, independent board to investigate the detentions, and six to other participating governments, including refusal to participate in extraordinary rendition or secret detention.
The issue of CIA extraordinary rendition has been a sensitive one, particularly in Europe. In December the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that the government of Macedonia [official website] is responsible for the torture and degrading maltreatment of a man the ECHR found to be an innocent victim of CIA extraordinary rendition in 2003. In September the Italian Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] upheld the convictions [JURIST report] of 23 former CIA officers for the 2003 kidnapping and rendition of Egyptian terror suspect Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr. In April UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Ben Emmerson [official profile] expressed regret over a US court decision denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [National Security Archive] requests by a member of the UK parliament and the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition [official website], made as part of an investigation into extrajudicial capture [JURIST report] by the US of foreign terrorism suspects for detention and interrogation. In March in a hearing before the European Parliament (EP) [official website], Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] asked EU member states to reconsider their involvement in the extraordinary rendition program [JURIST report], intending to create the foundation of an EP report that will divulge details of a five-year investigation into each nation’s involvement in supporting CIA renditions.