Press release - 517(2009)

International Day against Torture on 26 June: Europe should follow the US example

Statement by Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 25.06.2009 - This International Day Against Torture comes three years after my recommendations to the Council of Europe member states following allegations that some of them had aided and abetted the so-called rendition flights and secret detentions in Europe. I drew attention to the need for our member states to have the power to implement their existing obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights with regard to civil and state aircraft. We must ensure that the airports and airspace of Europe are not used to transport illegally detained people to countries where they may be tortured. I also pointed to the need to ensure that international rules on diplomatic immunity are not misused. Immunity should not be a licence to kidnap or torture people with impunity.

Regrettably, although three years have passed, there still has not been any meaningful response to my recommendations. In the meantime, several investigations have revealed that the European involvement in practices which violated the European Convention on Human Rights was much more widespread than initially thought. Some governments have expressed remorse, but there has been no action to close the legal and administrative gaps which allowed these violations of human rights to take place. Today, it is late, but it is not too late for the European governments to act. They should find inspiration from US President Barack Obama who outlawed rendition, secret detentions and torture during his first few days in office.

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11