For those still following the extraordinary rendition story, the secret CIA flights allegedly transporting prisioners from The War Against Terror, attention should be turned to Poland, where – according to the EU Observer – “a three day trip to Warsaw produced only vague, contradictory information from low-ranking officials”. Added into the mix are missing flight records, and great little snippets like
“former Szymanow airport boss Jerzy Kos told Mr Fava that a suspect flight by Boeing 737 N313 on 22 September 2003 never landed at the airport, while a government official, Marek Pasionek, said the flight could not be inspected after it had landed at Szymanow ‘because it was dark.'”
As this is all in the midst of Polish local elections, and the rest of the world still seems focussed on what’s going to be the new UK/US Iraq policy following the Republicans’ poor showing in the US midterms, there doesn’t seem to be too much attention being focussed on these rendition investigations at the moment.
But, with only a few weeks to go and despite more than 60 hearings and hundreds of hours of investigations – as well as admissions from the US that these flights exist that directly contradict statements from various European government heads that they had no knowledge that such flights were using their airports – so far not a single piece of evidence of wrongdoing has been found, even though co-operation with such flights would be in direct contravention of umpteen treaty obligations to ensure that due legal process is followed when transferring prisoners from one’s own country to another.
If something smells a bit fishy, it’s because it most certainly is. This Polish situation looks like it could well be only the most obvious example of Europe-wide collusion in a practice derided by the UN’s 1992 Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances as
“an offence to human dignity. It is condemned as a denial of the purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and as a grave and flagrant violation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… a violation of the rules of international law guaranteeing, inter alia, the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person”
Most importantly, of course, under Article 17.1,
“Acts constituting enforced disappearance shall be considered a continuing offence as long as the perpetrators continue to conceal the fate and the whereabouts of persons who have disappeared and these facts remain unclarified”
The situation in the UK also remains unclarified. However, were anyone to be able to discover any collusion between the British government and the CIA in the flights known to have used British airports, from the wording of the 1992 UN Declaration it would seem to place our dear overlords in definite breach of international law – whether the prisoners on board those flights went on to be tortured or not…
Update: A very different take on this story has just appeared at Spiked, which seems to claim that the EU is using Poland as a scapegoat and is about to withdraw the country’s voting rights (something which, erm… is impossible without ejecting the country from the Union – I’d have expected a professor of international relations, even one from the University of Westminster, to have known that…) in an attempt to make it look like anyone cares. But, let’s face it, Spiked is hardly known for its insightful, impartial analysis…