Saturday, January 21, 2006

What are the values of our continent worth? - Council Of Europe investigator

The Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly is scheduled to receive a preliminary report into US run torture camps on European soil and "extraordinary renditions"on January 23rd. This posting is a preliminary briefing for readers.

  • Several investigations are now underway in Europe both into the so-called "extraordinary rendition" and the presence on European soil of America run Soviet style interrogation camps. Of these the most important is the investigation by Swiss Senator Marty for the Council of Europe.
  • The Council of Europe is Europe's oldest political organisation, founded in 1949.It comprises 46 countries, including 21 from eastern and central Europe.
  • The Strasbourg-based Council is separate and independent from the 25-nation European Union.The Council defends human rights and parliamentary democracy.
  • Senator Marty* is due to present a preliminary report to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on January 23.
  • The Washington Post reported on November 2 that the US has used "Soviet-style" prison camps to interrogate suspected terrorists in eastern Europe, most likely Poland and Romania.US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has labelled the movement of suspected terrorists as "renditions".

* Senator Marty - Briefing
  • Born in Lugano, Ticino January 7, 1945.
  • Ticino public prosecutor 1975. He gained a reputation as formidable investigator and came to wider attention during a drug trafficking probe, when his enquiries implicated a company for which Hans W Kopp Swiss justice minister's, Elisabeth Kopp was a director. Elisabeth Kopp was forced to resign once it was revealed that she had warned her husband about the enquiry.
  • Awarded the US justice department's "Award of Honor" for his efforts to combat drug trafficking 1987.
  • Member of Ticino government 1989-1995.
  • Elected to the Swiss Senate 1995 (for Switzerland's centre-right Radical Party) he has a reputation within the Senate as highly effective legislator and debater. He has a strong human rights record and is on recrd as saying that excuses or exceptions are unacceptable. He voted against tightening the asylum law in Switzerland, and was sceptical of government calls for new measures to curb hooliganism in sport.
  • Appointed to investigate allegations of CIA prisons in Europe November 2005. He is on record as having said that Europe didn't spend hundreds of years ridding itself of such practices, "only to see them return overnight."
  • Senator Marty's site (Italian language) is here.
Key Quotes:
"If people are detained, transported and tortured without reference to the law, what are the values of our continent worth?"

In related news the EU parliamentary assembly and Irish unease over rendition flights continue to gather momentum.

Concerns grow in Ireland over use of Shannon airport as US military stopover
  • 330,000 US troops passed through airport in 2005
  • State denies knowledge of CIA rendition flights
Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent
Saturday January 21, 2006
The Guardian

Irish politicians and human rights activists are voicing growing concern at the US military's use of Shannon airport after it emerged that an average of 900 soldiers a day passed through the commercial west coast airport last year.


Edward Horgan, a former Irish soldier* who served with UN peacekeeping missions for 22 years before leading a campaign against US military use of Shannon, said up to 100 peace activists had been prosecuted in Ireland since 2002.

After two retrials, Mary Kelly, an Irish nurse, was found guilty of criminal damage for taking an axe to a plane at Shannon. She plans to appeal. Five protesters accused of damaging another US plane at Shannon are awaiting their third trial after the second collapsed when defence lawyers suggested that the judge had been invited to both George Bush's presidential inaugurations and attended the first one in 2000. (Emphasis added.)

Full story here
Two Irish MEPs Eoin Ryan (FF) and Simon Coveney (FG) are taking part the EU special committee inquiry into CIA 'torture flights' and the allegations that some camps within the 'US gulag' are located on EU soil.
"It will investigate allegations about the transport and illegal detention of prisoners by the CIA in European countries.

The committee will try to establish if people were obtained or abducted from inside the European Union, if these people were tortured and whether countries were facilitating rendition flights."

(Belfast Telegraph) More coverage from the BBC here .

* Horgan rose to the rank of commandant. Like many Irish officers with experience as peacekeepers he opposes breaches of Ireland's neutrality and has recently testified before the Oireachtas (Irish Parliament) Committee on foreign affairs that Ireland is in breach of several of her convention obligations.

"Constitutionally, Ireland doesn't have to be neutral, but having publicly declared internationally that Ireland is neutral, we are obliged to comply with our neutrality obligations, the most basic one of which is that foreign troops on their way to war may not be allowed to pass through our territory."

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