Alleged secret detentions and unlawful inter-state transfers involving Council of Europe member states
AS/Jur (2006) 16 Part II
7 June 2006
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Draft report – Part II (Explanatory memorandum)
Rapporteur: Mr Dick Marty, Switzerland, ALDE
C. Explanatory memorandum
by Mr Dick Marty, Rapporteur
8. Parliamentary investigations
246. As long ago as January, I called on national parliaments to put questions to their governments and to begin inquiries, where appropriate, to clarify European governments' role in this affair. A large number of questions were indeed raised in the parliaments of numerous Council of Europe member states, and this is very pleasing. Unfortunately, the government replies were almost without exception vague and inconclusive. The German and UK parliaments were particularly active, whereas parliamentary reactions in three of the main countries concerned by the allegations which are the subject of this report (Poland, Romania and "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia") were particularly feeble, if not inexistant.
247. Opposition MPs in Germany, although few in number since the recent elections, have put numerous questions to their government207. The replies were very general in every case208. The government systematically hid behind the responsibility of the parliamentary monitoring committee (parlamentarisches Kontrollgremium, known as the PKG) for dealing with matters relating to the activities of the secret services. A number of questions relating to the subject of this report have effectively been discussed within the PKG, but the government's detailed report to this very select group, which works in very carefully maintained secrecy, was classified "secret". The chair of the committee, Mr Röttgen (CDU), in response to my request, sent me the "public" version of this report, which is, frankly, not very informative and does not mention the individual cases raised by the media. The government attempted to avoid the setting up of a committee of inquiry by sending all members of the Bundestag a more informative version, classified "confidential", which does also contain some information about some of the aforementioned individual cases209. At the insistence of the three opposition parties, a committee of inquiry has nevertheless been set up, and it started work in May210. Its terms of reference include investigation of the allegations of collusion between the German authorities and the CIA in the case of Mr El-Masri. In short, the Bundestag has been highly active, urged on by the opposition parties in particular.
8.2 The United Kingdom
248. Our work regarding the United Kingdom benefited greatly from the efforts of a variety of interlocutors, whom I should like to salute in this report211. The United Kingdom parliament has not yet established a formal inquiry into possible British participation in abuses committed by the United States in the course of the ’war on terror’, but there have been several noteworthy parliamentary initiatives designed to broaden the public debate and encourage greater openness.
249. Late last year, one of the UK Parliament’s standing committees, the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), launched an inquiry into UK Compliance with the United Nations Convention against Torture. As part of its mandate the Committee examined several issues of relevance to this inquiry, including the use of diplomatic assurances and the practice of ’extraordinary rendition’.
250. The JCHR held a series of evidence sessions, featuring Ministers of the United Kingdom Government212 as well as representatives of non-governmental organisations213. Members of my team, on a visit to London in March 2006, met with a Committee Specialist of the JCHR and attended its evidence session with the UK Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Rt. Hon. Adam Ingram. In its report on UK Compliance with UNCAT published on 26 May 2006214, the JCHR recognised the “growing calls for an independent public inquiry” in the UK, but ultimately decided that such an inquiry would be “premature” until the Government’s own inquiries have been given a chance to publish with the “detailed information required”.
251. In the meantime an ad-hoc body known as the “All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Extraordinary Renditions” has engaged Members of the UK Parliament belonging to all political parties. On Tuesday 28 March, members of my team attended the APPG’s information session on the cases of Bisher Al-Rawi and Jamil El-Banna215, which featured testimony from both men’s legal representatives, MPs and family members. This session stimulated considerable media interest in the case and coincided with the public release of government telegrams passed on to the CIA in advance of the men’s rendition. I wish to thank the Chairman of the APPG, Mr Andrew Tyrie MP, along with his dedicated staff, for their valuable support.
8.3. Poland: a parliamentary inquiry, carried out in secret
252. A parliamentary inquiry into the allegations that a "secret prison" exists in the country has been conducted behind closed doors in Poland. Promises made beforehand notwithstanding, its work has never been made public, except at a press conference announcing that the inquiry had not found anything untoward. In my opinion, this exercise was insufficient in terms of the positive obligation to conduct a credible investigation of credible allegations of serious human rights violations.
8.4. Romania and "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia": no parliamentary inquiry
253. To my knowledge, no parliamentary inquiry whatsoever has taken place in either country, despite the particularly serious and concrete nature of the allegations made against both. What is more, the committee which supervises the secret services in "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" ceased operations three years ago216, and this is particularly worrying in a country where the secret services not so very long ago played a particularly important and controversial role.
207 I should like to thank not only our Committee colleague Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (Liberal), but also Mr Stroebele (Green party), for the information they have regularly supplied to me on this subject.
208 The same is true of the replies given by other governments questioned by members of their parliaments, such as those of Belgium, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Ireland.
209 The names of persons were represented by initials. See note 92 above in respect of my approach to the "confidential" and "secret" versions of this report.
210 I have been invited to address this committee in the near future.
211 In this regard, I should like to make particular mention of the London-based non-governmental organisation REPRIEVE, who have supported my team by providing contacts, research insights and materials relating to the cases they work on.
212 For example, on 6 March 2006 the JCHR heard evidence from the Solicitor General and Minister of State in the Department for Constitutional Affairs, Harriet Harman, along with other officials from her department. An uncorrected transcript of the session is available online at:
213 On 21 November 2005 the JCHR heard evidence from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and REDRESS. An uncorrected transcript of the session is available online at:
214 The full report is available online at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200506/jtselect/jtrights/185/18502.htm; a full record of oral and written evidence was published in a separate volume, available at:
215 See to the section of the report that treats these cases, at 3.5 above.
216 Response of the Parliament of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Sobranie) to the questionnaire of the TDIP Temporary Committee of the European Parliament. Available at: www.statewatch.org/’rendition.