European Parliamentarians to US: “Stop torturing detainees and give them a fair trial”

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Parliamentarians from 46 European countries have called on the United States government to cease torturing and mistreating detainees at Guantánamo Bay – and challenged it either to try them fairly or release them, in line with international law.
In a resolution adopted almost unanimously during its plenary session in Strasbourg, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said the US Government had “betrayed its own highest principles” in the zeal with which it had attempted to pursue the war on terror.

Delegates from every country and political group denounced the American prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, where hundreds of people from more than thirty countries have been deprived not only of their freedom but of their basic rights, suffering humiliation and in some cases torture.

The parliamentarians said that many detainees had been subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment “occurring as a direct result of official policy, authorised at the very highest levels of government”. In some cases, this ill-treatment had amounted to torture. Yet “at no time have detentions at Guantánamo Bay been within a ‘legal black hole’. International human rights law has at all times been fully applicable,” the Resolution continued.

Backing a report by UK Labour MP Kevin McNamara PACE also called on Council of Europe member states – almost every country in Europe - to refuse to extradite suspects liable to be held at Guantánamo Bay or provide the US authorities with incriminating evidence unless it was for legal proceedings before “regularly constituted courts”.

Supporting a resolution from Dutch Labour Party Senator Erik Jurgens, the Assembly also decided to pursue the issue through dialogue with the US Congress. His fellow Dutchman, Socialist Party (SP) representative Tiny Kox asked PACE members to take the debate back to their national parliaments in order to maintain and increase pressure on the American government.

The Assembly declared that the US violation of international law was incompatible with the duties attendant upon the country's status as an official Observer at the Council of Europe. Another such Observer, Canada, joined PACE members in their hard-hitting criticism.

It was decided that the Assembly would return to this question after keeping an eye on developments over the next six months.

For more information about the Resolution, PACE or the Council of Europe, go to http://assembly.coe.int