EP Committee hearing on the alleged CIA prisons in Europe
In March a public hearing on the alleged existence of CIA prisons in Europe was held before the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. The hearing was attended by representatives of non-governmental organisations, including the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Amnesty International and Reprieve.
Thursday, 05 April 2012
The parliaments of Lithuania, Romania and Poland did not have their delegates at the Committee session.
In 2006, the European Parliament issued a report on the CIA-operated clandestine detention programme in Europe. The follow-up to the report is already underway.
‘During today’s hearing we have highlighted the key facts pertaining to the current investigation into the existence of secret CIA prisons in Poland’, said Dr. Adam Bodnar, Deputy Chair of the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. ‘The recent press reports have added a new dimension to this case’, he adds.
According to the information published last week in Gazeta Wyborcza - a daily newspaper, prosecutors had brought allegations against Zbigniew Siemiątkowski, a former Head of the Intelligence Agency.
A probe into alleged CIA prisons in Poland was commenced in 2008. The prosecution services have been since investigating whether Polish authorities approved the creation of secret CIA prisons in years 2002-2003. Another question to be resolved by the probe is whether any Polish senior officials abused their powers by consenting to the alleged use of torture against terror suspects held at CIA detention sites in the country. The proceedings are classified. The aggrieved party status was awarded to two former Guantanamo prisoners, Abu Zubaydah and Al-Nashiri.
The investigation has been extended several times. The most recent extension was granted in early February this year. Two prosecutors in charge of the investigation, Jerzy Mierzewski and Waldemar Tyl, were removed from the case, one after another. In February, the proceedings were transferred to the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in Cracow.
‘I can hardly believe what I’ve heard today’, a Committee member, Professor Renate Weber of Romania said at the hearing. ‘This sounded like the stories by Kafka and Orwell, combined’.
The hearing was to support the works on the follow-up to the 2006 European Parliament’s report. Members of the Committee stressed the need for cooperation between Member States’ governments and MEPs in this respect.
‘We hope that information we presented today will be used in the final version of the Committee’s report’, said Dr. Adam Bodnar. ’We are committed to clarifying all the questions raised in the case.’
At the end of the hearing, the Chair of the Committee, Juan Lopez Aguilar, read a letter sent by the Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet. Mr Seremet explained that the investigation pending in Poland was classified and prosecutors were not allowed to disclose any information concerning their work.