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Council of Europe concerned with no progress in Polish CIA secret prisons inquiry

During the last session on 12 March 2016, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers expressed its deep concern about the status of Poland’s enforcement of judgments in the cases of Al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah.

In July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights entered judgments in the cases brought by two CIA detainees held in Poland, Al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah. In the judgement the ECtHR requested that Poland, among other things, should conduct effective and thorough investigation in this case and obtain diplomatic guarantees for the prisoners from the US. The enforcement of the judgment is now supervised by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

Polish government sent an updated action plan on the implementation of the two judgments of the ECtHR before the meeting of the Committee of Ministers. As stated in the plan, the US government informed – in a reply to the Polish diplomatic notes – that it would not provide the requested diplomatic guarantees. In the opinion of the US authorities, the obligations resulting from the Convention and the judgments of the ECtHR do not bind the United States. In the view of the US government, the rules of procedure before the Military Commission provide a number of procedural guarantees; and the possibility of imposing a death penalty is not prohibited under international law.

Polish government declared that it would renew its request for diplomatic guarantees. “The Committee of Ministers expressed its deep concern about the lack of explicit guarantees from the US government and stated that the USA has an observer status in the Council of Europe and in this way shares the values and ideals of and should cooperate with this organisation”, said Professor Ireneusz Kamiński. “At the same time, the Committee called on the Polish government to immediately repeat the request to the US government for the guarantee that Al-Nashiri will not be sentenced to death”, Professor Kamiński adds.

At previous sessions, the Committee of Ministers stated that there was a risk that evidence obtained under torture will be used in proceedings against Al-Nashiri conducted before the Military Commission. Abu Zubaydah has been detained since 2002, although no charges have been brought against him. That is why diplomatic guarantees should also be provided with regard to ensuring just and fair proceedings.

Recent press reports indicate that the investigation into the CIA secret prison in Poland, conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office in Kraków, might be discontinued.

“Not only the decision itself but also its justification will play a crucial role in assessing whether a real or merely a token investigation was conducted in Poland on the existence of a CIA prison”, said Professor Kamiński.

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