Accountability in Europe

Illustration of view of Europe from space with the shadow of a plane superimposed

Illustration of view of Europe from space with the shadow of a plane superimposed

© Amnesty International


Involvement of European governments in human right violations committed in the context of the “war on terror” is now well documented. Complicity in the programmes of rendition and secret detention operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been exposed alongside allegations of torture, enforced disappearance, and other ill-treatment.

Despite credible evidence of European governments’ involvement in these programmes, in which the USA systematically perpetrated human right violations, there has been little accountability. Virtually no states have been held to account, few perpetrators have been brought to justice, and most victims have not received compensation or had access to effective remedy for their suffering.

State secrecy, insufficient safeguards against torture and lack of redress

It is well-documented that planes operating in US rendition and secret detention programmes landed on Polish territory. In some cases, “decoy” landing locations were fabricated to disguise their true destination. A criminal investigation into Poland’s involvement has formally recognized two alleged victims of secret detention, but is being conducted with little transparency and without permitting the full participation of those victims.  

The authorities in Lithuania have admitted that the country hosted two secret prisons operated by the CIA. A criminal investigation into the sites was closed prematurely in January 2011. Amnesty International is working to have the investigation re-opened to ensure that those involved in any human rights violations that may have taken place within them are held to account.

“The time has certainly come to break the conspiracy of silence around the complicity of European governments in the human rights violations which have taken place during the counter-terrorism actions since September 2001.”
Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, 9 June 2010

As part of the Security with Human Rights campaign, Amnesty International will:

  • Maintain pressure on countries allegedly complicit in the CIA programmes of rendition and secret detention to hold independent investigations into their involvement in human rights violations committed in the context of these operations.
  • Ensure that all individuals responsible for European involvement in the CIA-led rendition and secret detention programmes are held to account.
  • Campaign for victims and their families to receive full and effective redress for their suffering.

Read more:

Europe: Open secret: Mounting evidence of Europe's complicity in rendition and secret detention EUR 01/023/2010, November 2010
Take action to call on the authorities in Lithuania to “unlock the truth” and re-open investigations into Lithuania’s role in torture and secret detention

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