Daily archives: November 18, 2005

Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the Andijan Trial


Brussels, 18 November 2005

The European Union has been closely following the trial in Uzbekistan of 15 individuals in relation to the events in Andijan on 12-13 May 2005, which concluded on 14 November.

The European Union shares many of the serious concerns about the conduct of the trial expressed on 26 October by the UN Special Rapporteurs and the Independent Expert on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, and those expressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The European Union looks forward to the early publication of the report of the ODIHR team which followed the trial.

The European Union has serious concerns about the credibility of the case presented by the prosecution and believes that defence procedures were inadequate to ensure a fair trial. The European Union would welcome the opportunity to discuss these concerns with the Uzbek government.

The trial focussed on the attacks on the army barracks, prison and SNB building, as well as the occupation of the Hokimyat. While recognising the criminal nature of these attacks, the European Union is concerned that the trial paid little attention to the substantial number of reports, including from eyewitnesses, alleging that the Uzbek military and security forces committed grave human rights violations while curbing the demonstrations.

The European Union continues to place primary importance on a credible and transparent independent international inquiry into the events of 12-13 May. The European Union stands ready to discuss all of these matters in its ongoing dialogue with Uzbekistan.

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UN rejects US restrictions on Guantanamo visit

From BBC Online

The UN has formally rejected a US invitation to visit the Guantanamo prison camp, saying it cannot accept the restrictions imposed by Washington.

UN human rights experts said the US had refused to grant them the right to speak to detainees in private. UN senior official Manfred Nowak said private interviews were a “totally non-negotiable pre-condition” for conducting the visit.

Some 500 terror suspects are being held at the US military camp.

Mr Nowak, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, told the BBC his team would accept nothing less than unfettered access.

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Iceland is also waiting for ‘CIA flight’ explanation

From BBC Online

Iceland and Sweden are investigating allegations that planes flown by the CIA used their airports during secret transfers of terror suspects.

The Icelandic government says it has asked the US for an explanation and is still awaiting a satisfactory answer.

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Britain to become hub for CIA terror prisoner flights

Mr Ren’ van der Linden, president of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, has called for help from the European Commission in the investigation of CIA prison allegations.

From EurActiv: “I would request all governments, along with the European Commission, to co-operate fully. This issue goes to the very heart of the Council of Europe’s human rights mandate.”

Meanwhile, it looks like Britain’s role in this form of human trafficing is set to increase.

By Ian Bruce in The Herald

Britain is poised to become the main European refuelling hub for secret CIA flights carrying terrorist suspects for interrogation in North Africa and the Middle East.

Despite protests by MPs and MSPs, the UK government has taken no action either to halt the clandestine flights or demand to know whether prisoners were on board the 390 known to have landed at Scottish and English airfields since 2001.

They are called “rendition” missions. This is the White House-sanctioned process of moving al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist prisoners to third countries where they can be interrogated beyond the reach of US and European human rights’ legislation. The countries to which captives have been taken for questioning by local security forces have been accused by the UN of employing torture to obtain information.

Officials in Germany, Spain, Sweden and Norway have opened criminal investigations into possible violations of national and international law on the issue. Italy has filed a formal extradition request naming 22 CIA agents allegedly involved in the kidnap of a radical Muslim cleric in 2003.

Ireland and Denmark have lodged protests over the pit-stop presence of CIA-operated aircraft on their territory en route for Guantanamo Bay in Cuba or “ghost” prisons elsewhere in the world. Denmark has even asked the CIA to avoid using its airspace when transporting prisoners.

A German intelligence source said: “Britain may soon be one of the few countries, if not the only one, still willing to accept rendition missions via its sovereign territory.”

The Herald has revealed Scottish RAF bases and civilian airports had played host to the 170 “rendition” missions en route to or returning from Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Jordan.

Glasgow and Prestwick airports handled 149 of the refuelling stops, including a number of overnight stays. RAF Leuchars, Edinburgh, Inverness and Wick were the other locations.

Professor Martin Scheinin, of the UN’s human rights commission, said: “When several states, by co-operating with each other, breach their obligations under international law simultaneously where torture might be involved, then all bear individual responsibility. I have submitted a list of detailed questions to the government of the UK over rendition flights.”

A source from Germany’s spy service said: “While most European governments initially turned a blind eye to rendition flights in the immediate aftermath of September 11, the embarrassment factor involved once the media realised that suspects were being abducted for torture at the hands of third parties means that these missions can no longer be carried out with impunity.

“Austria scrambled fighters to intercept an unauthorised CIA flight two years ago and our own government is increasingly hostile to US arrogance in assuming that Ramstein air base is US territory.”

Spain this week opened a judicial inquiry into claims that CIA flights used Majorca and the Canary Islands.

A CIA spokesman said the agency carried out rendition flights only via “countries which are political allies and whose intelligence services grant permission”.

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