Friday, July 25, 2014

ECHR Rules Poland Complicit in CIA Extraordinary Rendition Program

Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held that Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms by cooperating with the United States in operating secret detention facilities where persons arrested in the war on terror could be held for interrogation.  In the combined cases of al-Nashiri v Poland and Abu Zubaydah v Poland, the plaintiffs alleged they were tortured and mistreated while being held in secret detention at a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "black site" located at the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence training base near the town of Szcytno in northern Poland. Poland denied the existence of the secret detention facility.  

The seven  judges on the ECHR unanimously found sufficient evidence that Poland cooperated in the preparation and execution of the CIA rendition, secret detention and interrogation operations on its territory and that Poland should have known that by allowing the CIA to detain plaintiffs on Polish territory, it created a serious risk that the men would be treated in ways contrary to the Convention. 

The Court determined that Poland failed to comply with  Article 38 of the Convention, which creates an obligation to funish all necessary facilities for the conduct of an effective investigation. The Court also held that Poland violated the following articles of the Convention with respect to both men:   

Article 3 (prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment)

Article 6 (right to fair trial)

Article 8 (right to respect for privacy and family life)

Article 13 (right to an effective remedy)

By way of remedy, the Court ordered the payment of reparations to the men, both of whom are currently being held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The case is likely to have an effect on similar cases pending at the Court against Lithuania and Romania. 


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