Daily archives: September 30, 2005

The EU’s tardy response to the Andijan massacre is criticised

From The Telegraph

It has taken the European Union four and a half months to decide on sanctions against Uzbekistan for the Andijan massacre. These are due to be approved by foreign ministers of the 25 member states in Brussels on Monday. They are expected to ban exports of arms, military equipment and material that could be used for internal repression. Other measures include refusing visas to those thought to have been involved in the massacre, and cuts in aid disbursed under a 1996 partnership and co-operation agreement.

The EU argues that it had to wait for the report of its special representative, the Slovak diplomat Jan Kubis, before taking action. In so doing, it ignored its own deadline, of June 30, for Uzbek compliance with a demand that the May 13 massacre, in which hundreds of people were killed, be subject to an international inquiry. To add insult to injury, it did not even bother to place Andijan on the agenda of this month’s foreign ministers’ meeting in Newport.

Mr Kubis, who visited Tashkent and Andijan three weeks ago, has duly relayed President Islam Karimov’s refusal to accede to EU demands. Instead, the government has put on trial 15 defendants charged with what it terms an uprising by Islamic extremists. Investigations by human rights organisations have, by contrast, found that the authorities applied excessive lethal force to a largely peaceful protest against poverty and repression.

The EU has the chance to compensate for procrastination at its summit with Vladimir Putin in London next Tuesday. The Russian president has moved swiftly to strengthen relations with Mr Karimov following the latter’s decision to withdraw basing rights from the Americans at Karshi-Khanabad; enhancing Russian influence in the “near abroad” tops the Kremlin’s foreign policy agenda. EU leaders should tell Mr Putin that support for the Uzbek tyrant threatens stability in a region of mutual strategic concern, and can only damage Moscow’s relations with the West. The question is: will they have the guts to do so? Dilatoriness over the Andijan massacre does not encourage optimism.

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Italy issues three more arrest warrants for CIA operatives

From BBC online

An Italian court has issued three more arrest warrants for suspected CIA agents accused of helping to kidnap a Muslim cleric in 2003. The authorities have already ordered the arrest of 19 people suspected of being involved in the abduction of Egyptian Osama Mustafa Hassan.

The suspects are accused of abducting Mr Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, and flying him to Egypt for interrogation. Correspondents say the case has soured relations between Washington and Rome. Italy says the alleged operation hindered Italian terrorism investigations. No arrests have been made. None of the suspects is currently believed to be in Italy.

US policy

The latest warrants came after Italian investigators reconstructed the contents of a computer hard-disk belonging to one of the accused, according to the Italian Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Prosecutors believe the operation was part of a US anti-terror policy called “extraordinary rendition”. The policy involves seizing suspects and taking them to third countries for questioning without court approval. The US has previously acknowledged it sends terror suspects to third countries for questioning, but denies it condones torture.

Mr Hassan, 42, is believed to have been abducted on 17 February 2003, and flown out of the country from a US base in Aviano, north of Venice. After his release last year, he called his family telling them he had been tortured with electric shocks during his detention.

The CIA has refused to comment on the case and the Italian government has said it had no prior knowledge of the kidnap plot. Mr Hassan is believed to have arrived in Italy in 1997, where he was granted refugee status.

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Abu Ghraib images to be released to American Civil Liberties Union

ACLU Calls “Historic Ruling” a Step Toward Government Accountability for Abuse and Torture of Prisoners

NEW YORK – A federal court has ordered the Department of Defense to turn over to the American Civil Liberties Union more than 70 photographs and three videos depicting abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The release of the photos has been stayed for 20 days pending the government’s expected appeal.

See the ACLU site for full details

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