Poland Must Account for Torture and Extraordinary Rendition on Its Soil

This week, lawyers intervened on behalf of Guantanamo prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in a pending Polish investigation on CIA black sites, demanding the investigation and prosecution of persons responsible for his illegal transfer, detention, and torture on Polish soil. The intervention was filed in cooperation with the Open Society Justice Initiative.

This is significant, as prospects for justice for rendition victims are looking particularly bleak in the United States. Just this month, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed on state secrets grounds a case against Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary that transported CIA rendition victims across the globe. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the dismissal of rendition victim Maher Arar’s case. In 2007, it declined to hear the case of German citizen Khaled El Masri.

Numerous reports have now confirmed that CIA black sites existed in Eastern Europe—in particular, in Poland, Romania, and Lithuania.  In 2007, a Council of Europe report cited evidence of secret CIA detention facilities in Poland, at the Stare Kiejkuty intelligence training base, and in Romania. The same report noted that high level officials, including then president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniweski, either authorized or were aware of the black site at Stare Kiejkuty. A 2009 ABC News report of a secret CIA prison in Lithuania prompted an inquiry by the Lithuanian Parliament, which concluded that two sites in Lithuania could have been used for CIA detention. More recently, a United Nations report on secret detention confirmed that al-Nashiri was rendered to Poland.

There is no doubt that al-Nashiri was brutally tortured while held in various CIA black sites, including in Poland—the United States government’s own documents confirm this fact. According to a report authored by the CIA Inspector General’s Office, al-Nashiri was subjected to waterboarding, mock executions, stress positions, and threats of injury and sexual abuse directed at his family members.

“Before I was arrested, I used to be able to run about ten kilometers,” said al-Nashiri at a hearing in March 2007. “Now, I cannot walk for more than ten minutes. My nerves are swollen in my body.”

He added: “They used to drown me in water. So I used to say: ‘yes, yes.’”

Poland must account for a host of human rights violations conducted on its soil. Al-Nashiri’s torture violates his rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, his arbitrary detention without charge or trial violates Article 5, and his transfer to face a real risk of imposition of the death penalty violates his rights under Article 2.

Since early 2008, the Polish prosecutor’s office has been investigating the possible abuse of power by Polish public officials with respect to the CIA black site.  The fact that an investigation was opened is certainly encouraging, but findings have not yet been made public or led to any indictments.

This week’s filing is the first attempt by an extraordinary rendition victim to pursue legal remedies in Poland.  It will make it much harder for the prosecutor to turn a blind eye to the grave human rights violations associated with the CIA’s rendition program.

10 Comments

Could you also investigate the torture and beheading of innocent people by the Taliban and the killing of 3000 human beings on 9/11/2001?

Sharon, beside being smug, what is your point? The end justifies the means? Please explain.

We don't need to investigate 9/11, we just killed about a 600K Iraqis, and then we kill a few thousand Afghan non-comabatants each year and we call it even-steven. Collective punishment it's the American way. We had to let the people who actually did 9/11 go because Pakistan needs them for its defense-in-depth option in case of an Indian war. And beheadings are pretty much a wash with all the people blown up and shot by the fetus-huggers. So cheer up Shar, you're all taken care of - unless you want to start thinking like a civilized human being and try to alleviate suffering instead of scoring partisan points.

Sharon,

If the remedy for terrorist crimes against humanity is to copy and impose the same thing on others or even on those that did these things to start with does that make us secondary terrorists?

Do you think the military war industry is really unhappy about perpetual war for perpetual peace?

Do you see a difference between preemptive war and terrorist attacks on innocent people? When looking from our point of view? When looking from their point of view? When looking from the point of view of someone who has lost loved ones in a robot bomb collateral damage incident? How about when looking at it from the point of view of one who is on a secret kill list and being chased by mercenaries paid by a government?

Is not the solution to change the hearts and minds of those that would kill, and those that profit from it, and those that want revenge from that killing?

Lets create an international non-profit fund that subsidizes private industry that delivers food, medicine and other humanitarian aid to the poor. Maybe we can compete with the war industry.

Poland's quite happy to perform somersaults for the country they see as their saviour from Communism - (even when it puts them directly at odds with both NATO+EU membership).
Those rendered have every right to resist invasion and occupation without the 'Terrorist' tags of convenience being applied.
State terror is far less understandable and totally inexcusable. But then again, it's perhaps all too premature for the newly democraticised Poles... A case of misplaced loyalties?

Did the polish forget about what happened in WW2?

BRUTALLT TORTURED? AND HIS ONLY PROOF IS "MY NERVES ARE SWOLLEN" IT SOUNDS LIKE MY JOB...TELL HIM TO GET A LIFE...

Give me a break! I have yet to see "mainstream" reporting of the Al Qaeda manuals found in Afghanistan that instruct anyone captured by the US to: complain of torture, racism, abuse and disrespect of Islam, etc. It would be nice to see honest coverage of the horrific treatment of women and young girls, as well as those of non-Islamic faith by just about every Islamic country on the planet. But instead they choose to sympathize with terrorists. I am a 9/11 survivor - give me just a few minutes with one of these savages and I will happily demonstrate what real torture is!

He should be thankful he did not end up like his friend Osama... It looks like this should be how all those individuals should be treated. If even a single innocent life was saved (I have a feeling its much more) because of the interrogations, CIA and Polish govt are justified. By the way, it would really be nice if the author learns how to spell Polish President's name, it's sort of rude to mess it up like that

nice post

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