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Secret CIA prisons in Poland before Strasbourg Court

The European Court of Human Rights has heard the joined cases of Al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah vs. Poland. The applicants are Guantanamo detainees who claim that they were detained and tortured in a secret CIA facility in Poland.

Last week, the Court held an in-camera hearing attended by, among others, the applicants’ attorneys and the Government representatives. “According to our information, at least four experts have been heard during the hearing”, says Dr. Adam Bodnar, HFHR Deputy President.

Representatives of the Polish Government presented their arguments on the public hearing that subsequently took place on Tuesday, 3 December 2013. Minister Artur Nowak-Far noted that Poland is one of few countries that investigate the matter and that the official probe has already entered its advanced stage. The Minister also pointed to the existing regulatory loopholes in the ECtHR procedure which prevent parties from disclosing confidential information.

Next, the Court heard the attorneys of Al Nashiri. Amrit Singh, Open Society Justice Initiative, explained why the European Court of Human Rights should exercise the jurisdiction over the case. She referred to a statement of one of the experts who testified during the first hearing and unambiguously confirmed that Al-Nashiri had been detained and tortured in a secret prison in Poland. Advocate Mikołaj Pietrzak noted that Polish Government had failed to cooperate with a committee of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament committee and refused to cooperate with the ECtHR. “The only organisation that the Government has cooperated with was the CIA”, said Mr Pietrzak.

Padraigh Hughes, Interights, an attorney for Abu Zubaydah, quoted a statement of an expert heard on the previous day. According to the statement, Polish authorities had directly assisted and acted in concert with the CIA to establish the secret detention facilities and had been fully aware of their operations. Speaking next, advocate Bartłomiej Jankowski focused on the inquiry conducted in Poland and asked a number of open-ended questions about the reasons behind the multiple extensions of the proceedings and the replacement of prosecutors working on the case.

Upon the conclusion of the hearing the ECtHR informed that the matter would be further analysed.

Dr Adam Bodnar and Irmina Pacho with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights have attended the open hearing as members of the public.

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