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Europe rights commissioner urges probes into secret prisons

The Council of Europe [official website] Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg [official profile] on Monday urged [press release] Lithuania, Poland and Romania to investigate the roles their governments played in the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] program of "secret detention and torture" of terrorism suspects. According to Hammarberg, the CIA collaborated with its foreign counterparts in detaining "high value detainees" for periods of up to four-and-a-half years in secret "Black Sites." Hammarberg alleges that during their detainment enhanced interrogation techniques [JURIST news archive] were used on the terror suspects. These techniques included "forced nudity, shackling in stress positions, extended sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation, slapping, walling and waterboarding." The commissioner called on the three nations to investigate these allegations:

At the height of the "war on terror", Poland, Romania and Lithuania extended quite extraordinary permissions and protections to their American partners—while respecting conditions of total secrecy. Today, years later, darkness still enshrouds those who authorised and ran the Black Sites on European territories. The full truth must now be established and guarantees given that such forms of co-operation will never be repeated. Effective investigations are imperative and long overdue.
Hammarberg warned that the cost of refusing to investigate the alleged secret detention and torture practices could damage the European system of human rights protection.

Many have come under fire for special detention and torture practices. In June, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] announced that he would continue investigating the deaths of two detainees [JURIST report] who died during interrogations by the CIA. In January, a federal judge told the CIA that it must investigate the destruction of the interrogation tapes [JURIST report] related to individuals detained after 9/11 [JURIST news archive] and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In February, human rights advocacy groups urged the signatory states of the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) [text] to pursue criminal charges [JURIST report] against former US president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] in connection with allegations of enhanced interrogation techniques. Advocacy groups have also called for investigations into Bush-era torture practices by the Spanish government [JURIST report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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