US Secretary Rice responds to European enquiries on alleged CIA prisons

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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

The United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has begun to address concerns raised by the EU, the Council of Europe, and several member countries about the CIA's detention practices upon her arrival in Germany for a European tour that began Tuesday.

"As a matter of US policy, the United States' obligations under the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which prohibits, of course, cruel and inhumane and degrading treatment, those obligations extend to US personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the United States or outside the United States," said Rice, speaking from the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Wednesday.

Media reports and Human Rights groups have alleged that the CIA transported renditioned prisoners through European countries, which could violate European laws and the sovereignty of countries involved. Secretary Rice claimed that the United States has respected the sovereignty of other countries, and that it has not transported detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation using torture, and has not transported anyone to a country when we believe he will be tortured.

"We consider the captured members of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates to be unlawful combatants who may be held, in accordance with the law of war, to keep them from killing innocents. We must treat them in accordance with our laws, which reflect the values of the American people. We must question them to gather potentially significant, life-saving, intelligence. We must bring terrorists to justice wherever possible," Rice told reporters before she left from Andrews Air Force base on Monday.

Rice said that European nations should realize that interrogations of terrorist suspects have produced information that has saved European lives. However, Secretary Rice provided no specific cases.

"Secretary Rice made extra-legal rendition sound like just another form of extradition. In fact, it's a form of kidnapping and 'disappearing' someone entirely outside the law," said Tom Malinowski, a Human Rights Watch official in Washington.

The CIA practice known as "extraordinary rendition" is used to interrogate terrorist suspects outside the U.S., where they are not subject to American legal protection.

"Kidnapping a foreign national for the purpose of detaining and interrogating him outside the law is contrary to American values," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the Khalid El-Masri case. "Our government has acted as if it is above the law. We go to court today to reaffirm that the rule of law is central to our identity as a nation."

The ACLU feels the government has to be held to account over "extraordinary rendition".


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