Vol. 5 Num 514 Mon. November 07, 2005  

UN envoy urges EU to launch probe into secret US prisons

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak has urged the EU and the Council of Europe to conduct "high-level" investigations into allegations of secret CIA prisons in Europe.

"I am very much concerned about these allegations of any secret places of detention by the US government and the CIA in any part of the world," Nowak told AFP on the sidelines of a seminar on torture held in Helsinger, Denmark, north of the capital Copenhagen.

"Since these allegations have now been made public by The Washington Post and many others like Human Rights Watch, I think it is now up to the European Union and also to the Council of Europe to ... carry out high-level fact-finding."

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the US intelligence agency was holding al-Qaeda suspects in prisons in eight countries including Thailand, Afghanistan and "several democracies in eastern Europe", in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

US-based independent watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was "practically convinced" that such detention centres existed, at least in Poland and Romania.

"If they are true, it is not only the United States government, it's also the respective governments in which these secrets places of detention are located that are to be held accountable," Nowak told AFP.

"The world and civil society and in particular the victims and the families have the right to know the truth about what is happening."

The seminar marked the 20th anniversary of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) based in Denmark.