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International community calls again to explain the case of CIA prisons

On Wednesday, 7 September 2011, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a draft resolution on the abuse of the state secrecy privilege by intelligence services acting to protect state security. The draft resolution was based on the latest Dick Marty’s report, which analysed the issue of the accountability of certain CE member states for their participation in the CIA-operated clandestine rendition and detention programme.

The document assesses parliamentary and criminal investigations launched in CE member states in recent years, in particular in the UK, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Italy. The draft resolution says that the Polish Parliament confined itself to an inquiry “whose main purpose seems to have been to defend the official position of the national authorities”. Several consecutive Polish governments consistently deny that any CIA detention facilities have been operated in Poland.

An inquiry into the matter was started in 2008 but, despite its promising beginnings, it has yet to produce tangible results. The PACE document notes that this is the case because of the American authorities’ refusal to provide Polish prosecutors with the requested judicial assistance.

The draft resolution also emphasises that the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has played an important role in explaining the case. ‘Marty’s Report refers to the information on movements of aircraft belonging to CIA in the Polish airspace we have obtained from the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency and the Border Guards’, says Adam Bodnar, HFHR Deputy President. ‘We have obtained these data using the freedom of information law. It is our great success that we have shed a new light on the issue of the existence of secret CIA prisons in Poland’, he adds.

According to reports’ recommendations, intelligence services have to be held accountable for collaboration with CIA in using torture, secret renditions and detention of prisoners. The report reiterates that in democratic states there can be no ‘areas removed from any kind of control’.

The draft resolution urges, among others, the Polish prosecuting authorities ‘to persevere in seeking to establish the truth’ about the existence of CIA prisons in Poland. The document also calls the American authorities to cooperate with Poland and other countries.

‘The international community has been repeatedly demanding that the case of CIA prisons in Poland be explained’, says Mr Bodnar. ‘But the problem is apparently the absence of government’s will to resolve the issue’, he continues. Last week media quoted Wikileaks reports that the governments of Poland and the US had been trying to hush up the matter.

The presented draft resolution is likely to be adopted at the next sitting of the PACE.

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